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.

Medical Marijuana DUI Laws

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.

Physical Control Could Also Impact Your Medical Marijuana DUI

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.

Penalties for Medical Marijuana 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 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:

Mandatory

Incarceration

Minimum

Fine

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 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 member of law enforcement must be within their jurisdiction to approach, investigate and 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 make an arrest.
  • Blood tests must be obtained with a driver’s consent or a 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 admissiblein a court of law.

What to Do if You’re Arrested for a Medical Marijuana DUI

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

  • 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 immediately to preserve your options, including eligibility for ARD or Drug Court.
  • Write down everything you remember about the night of the arrest, from pre-arrest to being released from the police station.
  • If there are any witnesses, such as passengers, have them do the same as above.

Call Skinner Law Firm for Help with Medical Marijuana DUI Charges

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

 

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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