Why You Need a Marijuana DUI Lawyer

The Pennsylvania Legislature has criminalized driving while a cannabis metabolite (which can linger in a person’s system for weeks after ingestion) is present in the operator’s blood – even with absent impairment. In simple terms, this means Pennsylvania prohibits driving with any amount of certain controlled substances in your system – this includes marijuana – regardless of whether the driver is actually “high”.

In Pennsylvania, a person is guilty of a DUI if he/she drives with:

  • any amount of a schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act in their blood;
  • with a metabolite of a schedule 1 substance in their blood;
  • under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle;
  • under the combined influence of alcohol and a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

What is the Legal Limit in Pennsylvania?

The law states in Pennsylvania, when marijuana is involved, a level of one nanogram per milliliter of marijuana or its metabolites in the driver’s blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence. (75 Pa. Con. Stat. § 3802.) (45 Pa. B. 3638)

What is a Metabolite?

When a person uses marijuana, it releases several substances into the blood stream. The “active” component, known as THC (the stuff that causes the “high” or “stoned” feeling) works its way out of the blood in a very short time, usually less than a few hours. The “metabolites” (the stuff that your body turns the drug into) can stay in the system for days, or even weeks.

What this means is that a driver in Pennsylvania who has used marijuana days or weeks prior, and who has their blood tested on suspicion of DUI, may be charged with DUI. If certain amounts of the “metabolite” remain in the driver’s blood, that person will likely be charged with DUI, even if there is no evidence that the person was under the influence at the time.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Penalties vary according to whether the offense is a first offense or a subsequent conviction. The penalties increase for each prior offense in the past ten years (look back period). In addition to the penalties described below, the judge may order participation in a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program, a victim impact panel, and community service. (75 Pa. Con. Stat. § 3804.)

  • First conviction.

    A defendant may face a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, between 72 hours and 6 months in jail, and a 12 month driver’s license suspension.

  • Second conviction.

    Penalties include a fine between $1,500 and $10,000, between 90 days and 6 months in jail, and a 18 month driver’s license suspension.

  • Third and subsequent convictions.

    Penalties include a fine ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, at least one year in prison, or up to 5 years of incarceration; and license suspension for at least 18 months (to begin after release from prison).

Contact Our Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyers

If you or someone you know is charged for a Marijuana DUI, or any other drug related crime, the attorneys at The Travis Law Firm can help. The laws in DUI and drug related offenses are extremely complicated, and you should not face the legal system alone. Contact us today for a no charge free consultation with Attorney Grant C. Travis today.