DUI for Drugged Driving Under Pennsylvania Law

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You’re probably familiar with Pennsylvania’s harsh laws for drunk driving, which can lead to jail time and hefty fines for a first-time conviction and even more severe penalties for subsequent offenses. However, not as many people know about drugged driving and the fact that the consequences of a conviction can be just as serious – or even more so because you could face charges for possession of a controlled substance. If you’ve been arrested for drugged driving in Pennsylvania, talk to an attorney about how the state’s laws may apply to your case.


Definition of Drugged Driving

You may be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), if you are driving, operating, or in physical control of a vehicle’s movement AND:


There is any amount of a controlled substance in your blood as determined under Pennsylvania’s system of categorizing drugs. Schedule I includes substances that have no medical purposes, such as marijuana, heroin, crystal meth, and LSD. Other schedules deal with prescription drugs for which a person does not have a prescription.


You may also be arrested for DUID if you are under the influence of a drug such that your driving capabilities are impaired.


Zero Tolerance for Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substances

Pennsylvania has adopted a “zero-tolerance” approach for DUID, which means that any amount of a drug detected in your system will result in an arrest. Plus, an officer needs only a reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence of drugs; actual evidence is not necessary. Therefore, an odor of marijuana smoke, bloodshot eyes, or slurred speech may be enough to arrest you for DUID.


Penalties for a Drugged Driving Conviction

A person who is convicted of DUID is subject to the same penalties as a motorist who violates drunk driving laws under the Highest Rate of Alcohol classification. Therefore:


  • A driver will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 72 hours in jail, up to a six-month maximum; the court may also order a fine up to $5,000. Administrative penalties include a suspension of your driver’s license for one year.
  • For a second or subsequent DUID, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is 90 days and the maximum is five years. The sentence may also include a fine of $1,500-$10,000.

Talk to a Pennsylvania Drugged Driving Attorney About Your Case

It’s not just alcohol that can lead to impaired driving; operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs can also result in a conviction for DUI. Plus, you’re committing another crime by being in possession of a controlled substance. Under the circumstances, you need effective legal representation from an experienced attorney. A skilled lawyer can assist you with the administrative proceedings that impact your driving privileges and will be by your side to protect your rights in the criminal court case against you. If you have questions about drugged driving cases or want to discuss your case in more detail, please contact the West Chester, Pennsylvania, office of Skinner Law Firm.

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DUI in Pennsylvania: Two Cases Carry Different Penalties

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One drink too many could lead to a drunk driving charge, and you’ll be facing two cases under Pennsylvania law. Driving under the influence (DUI) actually triggers separate proceedings, both of which can have severe impacts on your life and freedoms: one that affects your driving privileges and one that carries criminal consequences. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, it’s important to understand the penalties that may result from the two types of cases and why it’s critical to hire an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney to represent your interests.


State Law on Drunk Driving

If you’re pulled over by an officer who suspects that you’re intoxicated, you may be required to submit to a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). There are three different BAC levels that apply:


  • General Impairment: .08 to .099 percent;
  • High BAC: .10 to .159 percent
  • Highest BAC: in excess of .16 percent


Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles DUI Case

One case for DUI focuses on your driving privileges and is handled by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. Your driver’s license will be suspended based upon your BAC level and any prior offenses:


  • General Impairment: To keep your license on a first-time DUI, you must complete an alcohol highway safety class and may be ordered to undergo alcohol treatment. For a second or third offense, your license is suspended for 12 months.
  • High BAC: For your first and second drunk driving offense, you will lose your license for 12 months. If you have three or more DUI arrests on your record, your license is suspended for 18 months.
  • Highest BAC: If you’re a first-time offender, your driving privileges are suspended for a minimum of 12 months. For two or more DUIs, your license will be suspended for 18 months.


Note that you may be required to install an ignition interlock device as well. This technology prevents your engine from starting if it detects a BAC above a certain amount when you blow into it.


Drunk Driving as a Criminal Offense

The second case against you is a criminal case because driving drunk is against the law. A General Impairment charge may be up to two years in prison plus a maximum fine of $5,000 for multiple offenses. For High BAC, you are looking at five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for three or more DUIs. The penalties for Highest BAC range from 72 hours to five years in prison plus a fine of $1,000-$10,000 depending on your history.


A Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Will Fight for Your Rights 

When you’re facing drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania, you can’t risk representing yourself. Only an experienced DUI attorney knows the laws relevant to your case before the DMV and in the criminal court system. The penalties for a conviction are harsh, but you do have options for defending your interests. A qualified lawyer will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome under state law. For more information or if you have questions about your case, please contact the Skinner Law Firm. We can schedule a consultation at our West Chester, Pennsylvania, office to discuss your matter in more detail. 




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