Can You Get a DUI for Marijuana in Delaware County?

You can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if you are impaired by marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. These types of cases often carry stacked criminal charges which could lead to harsher penalties. 

For this reason, it is essential to get the legal support of a top-rated DUI lawyer who can help you dodge a conviction. Although marijuana DUIs are similar to traditional DUIs, there are also several different issues that may impact the outcome of your case. Here is more about what to expect if you are stopped by police or charged with a marijuana DUI.

Marijuana Has Been Decriminalized in Some Delaware County Cities

Marijuana has been decriminalized in certain cities, including Folcroft, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and State College, among others. In the past, if you were in possession of marijuana, you could face criminal charges. However, since marijuana was decriminalized in some cities according to WHYY News, you can have up to 30 grams of marijuana on you without being charged with a criminal offense according to NORML. However, you may still be subject to a fine of $25-$250 depending on where the incident occurred.

If you have more than the legal limit found in your possession, you could still be charged with a drug crime. If you are stopped by law enforcement officials with marijuana in your possession, depending on the amount found on you, it is possible you could be taken into police custody. 

PA Medical Marijuana Laws

Marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in PA back in 2016 under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. Anyone who has a prescription for marijuana can consume and possess cannabis products without facing criminal charges. However, having a prescription does not absolve a patient from criminal charges if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

Marijuana may remain in your system for several weeks after consumption, despite the fact that the effects of the drug are generally only felt for a couple of hours at a time. As long as you are no longer impaired by marijuana, you can operate a vehicle without being charged. A drug test will still reflect cannabis use, but you should not be arrested for a crime if you were not driving while under the influence.

When Marijuana DUI Charges Apply

Decriminalization and marijuana use for medical reasons does not give anyone permission to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Remember, since marijuana will remain in your bloodstream for several weeks after consumption, it will show up on a drug screen even if it has been several days since you consumed the cannabis products.

This can make it more challenging for law-enforcement officials to secure a conviction for a marijuana DUI. Just because your system tests positive for marijuana does not mean you were under the influence at the time of the traffic stop. The police and prosecuting attorney will need to introduce other evidence that shows you were impaired and unable to operate a motor vehicle safely to secure a conviction.

It is impossible to determine with a breathalyzer whether someone is under the influence of marijuana. However, a blood test can be used to determine how much marijuana was in their system at the time of the traffic stop. Of course, since marijuana is metabolized differently than alcohol, these results may not be accurate. Fortunately, this gives your DUI lawyer an opportunity to challenge what little forensic evidence the state may have against you.

The Evidence in Marijuana DUI Cases May Work in Your Favor

Marijuana DUI cases are particularly difficult to prosecute since much of the forensic evidence can be challenged. There is no way to determine through a roadside test or field sobriety test whether an individual is under the influence of marijuana or another controlled substance. Even blood tests do not give an accurate representation of your potential impairment levels when you were stopped by police.

Law enforcement officials may not be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt with the responding officer’s testimony alone. For this reason, you may be more likely to obtain a plea agreement or work with the district attorney to negotiate your marijuana DUI charges down to a less serious offense. 

Alternatively, you could get entered into an accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program. These types of programs may be available for individuals who have substance abuse issues. In exchange for completing the terms of the program, the prosecutor will drop the marijuana DUI charges against you.

Consequences of a Marijuana DUI Conviction

The penalties that come with a marijuana DUI conviction could be devastating. If this is your first offense, it will be considered an ungraded misdemeanor. You could be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and be sentenced to a mandatory minimum jail term of 72 hours according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Additionally, you can expect your driver’s license to be suspended for up to one year.

Subsequent marijuana DUI convictions carry harsher penalties, including:

  • Second-time marijuana DUIs – This will be tried as a first-degree misdemeanor. You could have your driver’s license suspended for up to 18 months. There is a mandatory minimum $1,500 fine. There is also a mandatory minimum jail term of 90 days, though you could spend up to five years in prison depending on the circumstances of your case.
  • Third and subsequent Marijuana DUIs – Subsequent marijuana DUIs are typically tried as third-degree felonies. There is a mandatory minimum $2,500 fine if you are convicted. Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to 18 months, and there is a mandatory minimum term of one year. However, you could spend up to seven years in a Pennsylvania state prison if aggravating factors are present.

Meet With a High-Powered Delaware County Marijuana DUI Lawyer Today

Whether you are charged with a marijuana DUI or a standard drunk driving offense, with the resources and support of a skilled Delaware County marijuana DUI attorney from Bonner Law Firm handling your defense, you can feel confident in your strategy. 

We are prepared to challenge the state’s evidence against you, negotiate with prosecutors to secure a plea agreement or get you enrolled in an ARD program, and help you get back to your life. Complete our secured contact form or call our office to schedule your confidential consultation today. When you are able to put this experience behind you, you will be glad you did.