Most people are aware that driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to a DUI conviction. But can you get a DUI for marijuana use? The short answer is yes, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in many U.S. states, including Pennsylvania. Even if you have a legal prescription for medical marijuana, you can still get a marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania.
You can be charged with a drug-related DUI in Pennsylvania after any marijuana consumption, even if you were not physically or cognitively impaired. In fact, Pennsylvania adopted a new law in 2011 that prohibits operating a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana metabolite over one nanogram per milliliter in your system.
Some residents may think they are not at risk because Pennsylvania allows marijuana for medical use and some municipalities have started to decriminalize possession of small amounts. However, the penalties are steep for driving under the influence of marijuana and police are increasingly making DUI arrests.
Per Se DUI Laws for Marijuana
Pennsylvania is among the handful of U.S. states that have adopted per se DUI laws for marijuana. Per se laws make it illegal to drive with a drug in your body that exceeds a specified limit. You cannot drive with any amount of marijuana metabolite over one nanogram per milliliter in your system.
The key thing to understand about the per se law is that prosecutors do not have to show that you were in any way impaired while driving. Just the presence of marijuana over one nanogram per milliliter in your bloodstream can lead to a conviction. Police officers don’t even have to provide evidence of impaired driving to make an arrest. All they need is a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of drugs.
Pennsylvania Implied Consent Laws
While many people associate implied consent laws with alcohol testing, the law applies to drugs as well. The law dictates that any person who drives a motor vehicle in the state of Pennsylvania is deemed to have given consent to have a drug test performed by a law enforcement officer if requested. If any person arrested refuses to submit to a blood test, driving privileges will be suspended for up to 18 months.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania
There are various penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana. The severity depends on whether this is your first offense, a second offense, or a subsequent conviction.
First offense: Your first offense is classified as a misdemeanor. You can be subject to a prison sentence between 72 hours and six months or be ordered to pay a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. Other possible consequences include attending highway safety school, completing 150 hours of community service or having your license suspended.
Second offense: Your second offense is also considered a misdemeanor. You could be sent to prison for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of six months. Fines of no less than $1,500 may also be imposed.
Subsequent offenses: Any subsequent offenses are considered second-degree misdemeanors. The minimum prison sentence is one year. Other possible consequences include a $2,500 fine, license suspension and 150 hours of community service.
Does a DUI Indicate Marijuana Abuse?
If you receive a marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania, it may be a sign that you need to explore treatment options for marijuana abuse or addiction. Marijuana addiction is a common problem and any substance use disorder can cause many harmful legal and health problems if not treated.
Rehab After Work has helped many individuals charged with a DUI. Courts often order substance abuse treatment as part of the penalties for driving under the influence, and lawyers may even recommend voluntary treatment. If you have been charged with a per se DUI for marijuana use, call us to discuss your treatment options.