Tag Archives: Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer

Marijuana related DUI Laws in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

pittsburgh marijuana DUI lawyerI 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.

What you need to know after being charged with a Pittsburgh DUI

DUI Laws in Pittsburgh: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been arrested for a Pittsburgh DUI Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer George Heymyou could be facing fines, license suspension, and a mandatory jail sentence. Receiving a DUI is a serious legal concern and should be handled cautiously. If you have been charged with a DUI in PA, you will need to know certain things before taking action.

Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) and your number of prior DUI’s are used to calculate your Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence.

If your BAC is tested when you are stopped for a Pittsburgh DUI the percentage of alcohol found in your blood stream places you in one of three BAC tiers set by Pennsylvania DUI Law. Tier I is the lowest level, ranging from 0.08% to 0.099% BAC. Tier II ranges from 0.10% to 0.159% and Tier III is 0.16% and higher. Tier III also includes those driving with controlled substances, a combination of alcohol and controlled substances and those who refuse a blood or breath test.

Persons who refuse testing are prosecuted under The General Impairment section of the DUI Statute which states that being under the influence of alcohol to the extent you cannot safely drive qualifies as DUI. This is a subjective standard based upon the testimony of the police officer and does not require a BAC reading. There is also an additional civil penalty of 12 months driver’s license suspension for refusing a breath or blood test which is in addition to any suspension imposed as a result of the DUI charge.

If you are convicted of a DUI in PA, penalties, fines, and punishments range depending on the number of DUIs you have in the previous 10 years combined with which BAC tier you fall into, mandatory minimum sentences on a first DUI offense include:

Tier I  BAC .08 – .099 %

  • 6 months of probation
  • Up to a 1 year driver’s license suspension
  • Possible Ignition interlock system for 1 year

Tier II  BAC .10 – .159 %

  • Driver’s license suspension from 1 year to 18 months
  • Mandatory minimum 48 hour jail sentence
  • $500 – $10,00 fines
  • Ignition interlock system

Tier III  BAC .16 % and higher

  • Driver’s license suspension from 1 year – 18 months
  • Mandatory Minimum 72 hour jail sentence
  • $1,000 – $10,000 fine
  • Ignition interlock system

Being charged with a DUI does not mean that you are guilty. There are very often defenses that only an experienced DUI Defense Attorney will know to raise in your particular case. Further, it is very often possible to avoid jail, shorten license suspensions and even avoid a criminal record.

Underage drinking and DUIs

Pennsylvania has strict laws against underage drinking and driving. As a part of the “Zero Tolerance” policy, PA underage drinking laws are some of the harshest in the United States. A minor only has to have a BAC of .02 % to fall under the DUI Statute.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in PA, you need to take immediate action. Contact George Heym, Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer for a free consultation.