Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program makes cannabis use legal for chronically ill people. However, the program does not impact current DUI laws. Statewide legalization of recreational cannabis is still being debated. However, you could get a DUI for using medical marijuana as the law currently stands. This article will seek to clarify the law about driving and marijuana use in Pennsylvania.
Under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(d)(1), driving with any amount of a Schedule I Controlled Substance in a driver’s blood system is illegal. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under both Pennsylvania and Federal law.
No current laws protect medical marijuana users on the road in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. It is irrelevant if a patient’s ID card is from a state that allows medical marijuana patients to drive or otherwise legalizes marijuana.
This means driving under the influence of marijuana, including medically prescribed marijuana, could result in an arrest for a DUI offense in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. This applies even if you have a medical marijuana ID card. It is obvious when driving and operating a vehicle is taking place, but 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. Even if a driver does not intend to drive after using marijuana, being in the vehicle could be considered having physical control and lead to an arrest.
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 is 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|
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.
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.
Most first-time medical marijuana DUI offenders will be eligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Upon completing this program, all DUI charges qualify for dismissal and expungement.
Similarly, some defendants benefit from being admitted to Drug Court for marijuana-related cases. Successful completion of Drug Court allows charges to be dismissed and expunged in the future.
For defendants who are ineligible for ARD or Drug Court, there are still options to fight a DUI for medical marijuana use. Options include:
A few words of advice apply to all criminal defendants. If you have been arrested or accused of a medical marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania,
The trial-proven marijuana DUI attorneys at Skinner Law Firm handle all forms of DUI cases, including those related to the alleged use of marijuana or other controlled substances. It is imperative to speak with an attorney before your first hearing.
If you have been arrested for a 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
By Michael Skinner |
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