Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Even though the state has legalized marijuana for medical use, marijuana continues to be illegal for recreational use in the state. Regardless of whether you have a medical prescription for marijuana or you are using marijuana for recreational purposes, you can be charged with marijuana DUI for having any amount of cannabis in your system.
Pennsylvania’s zero tolerance policy for driving under the influence of marijuana makes it very difficult for someone who has a valid medical marijuana prescription to drive while using the drug. If you are pulled over and charged with DUI for marijuana use, you could face severe penalties. Until the state changes the DUI laws, anyone using medical marijuana should be very cautious about operating a vehicle.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Pennsylvania
The penalties for a marijuana DUI can be severe. For a first offense, you could be sentenced to six months mandatory probation, a $300 fine, highway safety school, and drug treatment. For a second offense, the punishment for a conviction increases dramatically.
A second marijuana DUI conviction within ten years can carry penalties of:
- Six months in jail
- Fine up to $2,500
- Highway safety school
- Suspension of driving privileges for one year
- Drug and alcohol assessment
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
In addition to the DUI charges and penalties, you can also be charged with other marijuana crimes. Criminal charges related to a marijuana DUI stop can include possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and distribution of marijuana. Each of these drug charges could carry additional penalties.
An Erie marijuana DUI attorney can help you fight a DUI charge. Because of the potential for severe penalties and a permanent criminal record, you should treat a marijuana DUI charge as a serious matter. Do not assume that if you have a medical marijuana prescription or this is your first offense that you can handle the matter without the assistance of an attorney.
Defending a Marijuana DUI in Erie, PA
If you are charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, you need to speak with a qualified attorney as quickly as possible. You may have one or more defenses that could reduce your charges or result in a dismissal of charges. A DUI conviction can impact your life in many ways, including your ability to care for your family and earn a living. In addition, a criminal record could impact many other areas of your life as school admissions offices, employers, landlords, and others may view your criminal record in a negative manner.
Our Erie criminal defense attorney handles DUI cases involving drugs and alcohol. With a marijuana charge, we may use several defense strategies to fight the charge.
For example, most marijuana DUI charges involve the officer testifying he smelled marijuana on you or in the vehicle. “Smell” cannot be scientifically proven, and there is not a standardized test for “smelling” marijuana. Therefore, the idea of using smell as a standard for charging someone with marijuana DUI is questionable, especially if there is no other substantive evidence.