Drugged driving penalties in Pennsylvania

| Feb 25, 2020 | Drug Crimes |

Driving under the influence is against the law in Pennsylvania. Although this phrase originally referred to alcohol, today, it also refers to driving while high. Law enforcement officers can charge a driver with DUI if they have any amount of a substance under the Controlled Substance Act in their blood. It also includes drivers with a Schedule I metabolite substance.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services can add to, change or delete the substances encompassed by this statute. When determining whether to include a drug or other substance as part of this law, there are several factors under consideration, including the following:

  • Evidence of its pharmacological effect
  • Relative or actual potential for abuse
  • Risk to public health
  • History and current trend of abuse
  • Duration, significance and scope of abuse
  • Physiological and psychic dependence liability

Traces of cannabis metabolite can remain in the body for weeks after ingestion. A driver may face DUI charges even in instances when there is no sign of impairment, depending on the concentration. The penalties depend on the situation and the number of offenses.

If it is a driver’s first offense, the minimum jail time is 72 consecutive hours, with a maximum of six months. Fines of $1,000 to $5,000 accompany the misdemeanor charges as does attending an alcohol highway safety school and a license suspension of up to 18 months. The second offense increases the minimum incarceration period to 90 days. Any additional infractions increase imprisonment to at least a year and the charge changes to a 2nd-degree misdemeanor.

In all situations, the driver may have to complete 150 hours of community service and attend a victim impact panel. A misdemeanor conviction shows up on background checks for job, school, school and applications. Landlords often run background checks on potential tenants. This limits the earning potential, education and living arrangements of the convicted driver.