Pennsylvania recently hopped on board the ever-growing list of states that have made medical marijuana possible for chronically ill people. However, the new law did not address, nor change, the current DUI laws. As such, considering the archaic nature of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, it remains illegal to drive with any marijuana in one’s system. This article will seek to clarify the law about driving and marijuana use in Pennsylvania.

DUI Laws in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle with marijuana in one’s blood system. Driving and operating a vehicle is obvious – whether a driver is on a highway or roadway, he or she is driving.

It is important to note the latter phrase “actual physical control.” This statement incorporates non-moving conduct, such as sitting in a parked vehicle with the engine running.

Therefore, even if a driver does not have an intention of driving the vehicle, he still has physical control of the vehicle’s movements. Under this scenario, he or she could be arrested.

Penalties for Cannabis-Based DUI in Chester County, PA

DUI offenses in Pennsylvania involving a controlled substance, such as marijuana, are subject to the highest penalties possible. The range of penalties that can be imposed on a defendant are contingent on the existence of prior DUI convictions, if any.

For a conviction, under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(d), the following mandatory minimum penalties apply:





License Suspension Ignition Interlock
First Offense 72 hours $1,000 12 months No
Second Offense 90 days $1,500 18 months Yes
Third Offense 1 year $2,500 18 months Yes
Fourth + Offense 1 year $2,500 18 months Yes

Medicinal Marijuana Could Result in a DUI in Norristown, PA

Under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(d)(1), it is illegal to drive with any amount of a Schedule I Controlled Substance in a driver’s blood system. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under both Pennsylvania and Federal law; however, marijuana is unique in that it contains both active and inactive ingredients. Some drivers will show signs of recent marijuana use during a traffic stop. A majority of driver’s won’t show any signs of recent marijuana use, but will still have inactive metabolites in their system.

Prescription Marijuana Results in a DUI Arrest in Lancaster, PA

There are no current medical marijuana laws that protect drivers in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. It is irrelevant if a patient’s ID card is from a state that either allows medical marijuana patients to drive or otherwise legalizes marijuana.

This means, driving under the influence of marijuana, including medically prescribed marijuana, could potentially result in an individual being arrested for a DUI offense in Pennsylvania.

Effectively Dispute a Marijuana-based DUI in West Chester, PA

Most first time offenders will be eligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Upon successful completion of this program, all DUI charges qualify for dismissal and expungement.

Similarly, some defendants find the benefit of being admitted to Drug Court for marijuana-related cases. Successful completion of Drug Court allows the same charges to be dismissed and expungeable.

For defendants who are ineligible for ARD or Drug Court, there are still options to fight a DUI based on marijuana, such as:

  • A member of law enforcement must be within his or her jurisdiction to approach, investigate and/or arrest an individual.
  • A member of law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to stop a moving vehicle or detain a person in a non-moving vehicle.
  • Defendants have the right to cross-examine and discredit an officer’s testimony regarding impairment.
  • A member of law enforcement must have probable cause to arrest a person for marijuana-based DUI.
  • Blood tests must be obtained with a driver’s consent or valid warrant.
  • Blood tests must be administered pursuant to specific rules and regulations.
  • Even if a blood test shows the presence of marijuana, the test must still be admissible in a court of law.

Things To Remember If Arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania

A few words of advice apply to all criminal defendants. If you have been arrested or accused of a marijuana-based DUI,

  • Do not speak to, text, write or otherwise communicate to anyone about your case, especially the officer.
  • Do not post anything to social media platforms about your case, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
  • Consult an attorney right away to preserve your options, including eligibility for ARD or Drug Court.
  • Write down everything you remember about the night of the arrest, from the pre-arrest period to being released from the police station.
  • If there are any witnesses, such as a passenger, have them do the same as above.

The trial-proven attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm handle all forms of DUI cases, including DUI by marijuana and DUI by any other controlled substance. It is imperative to speak with an attorney before your first hearing.

If you have been arrested for DUI and fear you may have had any marijuana in your system at the time of your arrest, call the Skinner Law Firm today to schedule a consultation at (610) 436-1410.


Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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