Pennsylvania is known for its stringent approach to drug possession, use, and dealing. You may wonder how this applies to marijuana, which is generally used far more widely and with fewer side effects than harder drugs. However, even with recent changes to Pennsylvania laws, the penalties for having or being under the influence of marijuana while driving are still high.
Learn more about state and county laws below, and if you are arrested on marijuana charges in or around Chester County, call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 to discuss your next steps in a free, initial consult.
Across Pennsylvania, marijuana remains illegal unless you have the appropriate medical authorization and documentation. While some municipalities have started to decriminalize marijuana, those caught with or under the influence of marijuana often face convictions and serious penalties.
These charges often come after routine traffic stops where officer detects the odor of marijuana or it is in plain view. If you are caught driving with less than 30 grams of marijuana in your car, you face an ungraded misdemeanor for possession of marijuana. Penalties may include up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500.
For more than 30 grams, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. If you have paraphernalia, like a pipe, rolling papers, or a grinder you could spend up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Those arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana face much more serious penalties than those simply in possession. However, this is more complicated than it sounds.
Everyone knows you should not drive while high, but many assume that you are safe to drive once you are no longer obviously impaired. The water-soluble part of marijuana, THC, leaves the body quickly. Cannabinoids, however, remain in the body much longer and can cause a positive test result long after you used marijuana. This may cause a positive test even if you are clearly not under the influence.
To be charged with a DUI, an individual must have at least one nanogram of marijuana metabolite per milliliter of blood.
A first-time offender must go through six months of probation, pay a $300 fine, comply with drug treatment demands, and go through highway safety school. Subsequent offenses come with higher penalties. For example, a second marijuana DUI may put you in jail for up to six months and cost you up to $2,500. In many cases, possession of marijuana or paraphernalia is added as a secondary charge.
As soon as you are arrested for driving with marijuana, you need to hire an attorney with experience in marijuana-related drug crimes as quickly as possible. In addition to the legal consequences, you could also find yourself with limited job opportunities and other side effects of a drug-related conviction.
Your best chance is to hire an attorney who can look for errors in the traffic stop, vehicle search, and subsequent arrest. In a Lehigh County 2019 case, for example, a judge determined that state troopers did not have probable cause to search a car solely because they smelled marijuana. If any part of your arrest was unlawful, you could get charges dropped or dismissed.
Drug convictions can follow you for decades, seriously changing the course of your life. Your best move is to retain an attorney with substantial experience in local drug charges. That’s where we can help. Reach out a West Chester marijuana lawyer at Skinner Law Firm. Contact us online or call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation now.