I am often asked questions regarding Pittsburgh DUI Law after ingesting Marijuana. Clients will ask me “I can’t be charged with DUI because I ingested Marijuana several weeks ago, right?” Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case and this area of Pittsburgh, PA DUI Law can be very confusing. Thus, I am providing an overview of Pennsylvania Law in this area and how it affects motorists.
The first thing to note is that Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under Federal Law. This means that it has been defined as having no medical or research value and it cannot be prescribed by a physician – despite many state laws being to the contrary. This is important because Pennsylvania DUI Law uses the Federal designations of controlled substances.
Pennsylvania DUI Law creates a “zero tolerance” rule for all Schedule I drugs. The standard applied to Pittsburgh Marijuana DUI cases is whether you have ANY amount of the active ingredient of Marijuana in your blood. Pennsylvania DUI Law does not require that it be proven that it actually affected your ability to drive. Contrast this with prescribed Schedule II drugs where it must be proven that the drug “impaired” your ability to drive, or alcohol where it must be proven that you were “under the influence to the extent that you were rendered incapable of safe driving”.
Further, PA DUI Law states that having ANY amount of the metabolite of Marijuana in your blood also qualifies as DUI. The metabolite of Marijuana is what is produced by your body when it breaks down Marijuana after ingestion. The metabolites of Marijuana can remain in your system for up to 30 days. Obviously, this can create bizarre and unfair situations. For example, you could ingest Marijuana where it is legal (under state law) and then travel to Pennsylvania. Weeks later, you could be pulled over and charged with DUI despite the fact that you are no longer under the influence and broke no state law in ingesting it.
Is this fair? Of course not, but it is the current Law in Pennsylvania!
Generally, it is understood that for a criminal law to pass Constitutional muster the requirements must “rationally relate” to what it is trying to protect against. PA DUI Laws are to protect society from people who might be dangerous while driving under the influence. Charging someone who is no longer under the influence (and may not have even broken state law to ingest it) does not seem to “rationally relate” to the DUI Law’s purpose.
However, all drivers should be aware that this is the current state of Pittsburgh, PA DUI Law regarding Marijuana. If you have been stopped after ingesting Marijuana with the last month or so you should immediately contact a DUI Lawyer to seek a consultation. There may be legal defenses that do apply to your case which could mitigate the danger that you face. Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer George Heym offers a Free Consultation on all DUI cases.