Can you be Charged with DUI for Using Substances Other than Alcohol?

DUI laws are written for the purpose of protecting both drivers and those around them from coming to harm, and those laws make very little distinction between a driver’s ability being impacted by alcohol and by other substances. In the state of Pennsylvania, you can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs and face the same penalties as those imposed for driving under the influence of alcohol. Though the testing that is conducted may differ, the standard used by the legal system is the same: if you are viewed as incapable of driving with the same level of responsibility as a person who is not under the influence of any type of substance, then you can be charged and later found guilty.

The substances for which you can be charged with DUI in Pennsylvania include marijuana and all other illegal drugs, as well as drugs that are legally prescribed by your physician. You can even by charged with DUI if you have taken an over-the-counter medication that affects your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Police generally use characteristic evidence such as driving pattern, performance on field sobriety tests and appearance when they are making a DUI for drugs arrest, though they may also rely on the results of chemical tests to determine the level of substances you have taken.  There are also medical indicators that can be used, including pupil size, the presence of injection marks, blood pressure or pulse rate, and more.

The state of Pennsylvania has specific rules regarding how much marijuana you are permitted to have in your system: if you have 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in your system, you can be convicted of DUID, or Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, but it is difficult to determine exactly how much an individual needs to have inhaled or ingested to reach this level, or how long it takes for the drug to leave your system. The same is true for other substances. The main judgment is based upon whether or not your driving ability was impacted, and as a result, it is possible to mount an effective defense to charges of DUI for drugs.

For information on how our law firm can assist you in fighting a DUI charge, contact us today to set up an appointment.