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.
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.
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|
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 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 few words of advice apply to all criminal defendants. If you have been arrested or accused of a marijuana-based DUI,
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.
By Michael Skinner |
14 Feb, 2020