Arizona Drug Paraphernalia Basics
If you are pulled over by law enforcement for suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol are drugs. If the officer believes that there is evidence of the crime in the vehicle, he/she may have the authority to search the interior vehicle for evidence of alcohol or drug consumption.
In the landmark Supreme Court case, Gant v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant only if the officer reasonably believes that you could gain access to the interior of the vehicle to destroy evidence or procure a weapon. If the officer has arrested you and put you in the back of the police car, he/she needs a warrant to search your vehicle.
If the officer finds drug paraphernalia in the vehicle during the search, you may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, which is a class 6 felony in Arizona. This charge could be in addition to a DUI charge if the officer determines that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. The usual punishment for possession of drug paraphernalia is probation.
Drug paraphernalia is any equipment, materials, or products that are used “to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce” a drug into the human body. This includes growing and manufacturing drug kits, scales, testing equipment, balloons and bags, objects designed to conceal drugs, and objects used to administer drugs to a person. The court considers the following factors to determine whether an object constitutes drug paraphernalia.
- Statements by the owner or anyone in control of the object regarding the object’s use,
- Prior drug convictions of the owner or anyone in control of the object,
- The proximity of the object in terms of time and space to other drug offenses,
- The proximity of the object to drugs,
- The presence of drug residue on the object,
- Direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of the owner or anyone in control of the object,
- Oral or written instructions provided with the object concerning its use,
- Descriptive materials accompanying the object which explain or depict its use,
- Advertising concerning the object’s use,
- The manner in which the object is displayed for sale,
- Whether the owner, or anyone in control of the object, is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products,
- Evidence of the ratio of sales of the object to the total sales of the business enterprise,
- The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community, and
- Expert testimony regarding the object’s use.
If found, the officer will confiscate the suspected drug paraphernalia as evidence and you may permanently forfeit ownership of the object under Arizona law. Drug paraphernalia is governed by Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 13-901.01 and 13-3415.
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, contact an attorney at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your case.
Photo credit: Bob With from Flickr