Can Medical-Marijuana Users Be Charged with DUI in Pennsylvania?

Medical Marijuana and DUI Law in Pennsylvania

As more and more people in Pennsylvania can more easily obtain a Medical Marijuana Card, what happens when they are pulled over for DUI? As the law currently stands, even if a person is legally allowed to consume marijuana, they could still face DUI charges, even while not impaired at the time of arrest.

medical marijuana dui laws pennsylvania

Since trace amounts of marijuana (metabolites) can be found in a blood test for up to 30 days – even if a person did not consume in the last 24 hours – they could still face the same penalties as a person with a High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level.

Even if you were using marijuana as prescribed and are not high or impaired at the time of an arrest, you can be charged with DUI.

In late 2020, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House voted to amend the DUI law to decriminalize trace amounts of marijuana for legal medical-marijuana users. However, the Pennsylvania State Senate has yet to take measures to move the amendment forward and get it to the Governor’s desk. The amended bill states that an individual may not drive under a controlled substance with the exception of “marijuana used lawfully in accordance with the act of April 17, 2016, known as the Medical Marijuana Act.”

Even if this law were to go into effect, there are still exceptions, however. For instance, if a person demonstrates impairment or is driving recklessly, they can still be charged with DUI.

If used safely, medical marijuana should not impair a driver, especially if they are not using it at the time of arrest. As medical marijuana is legal for card holders, they should not be punished just because law makers have not passed appropriate laws or kept up with new laws. The tests also cannot monitor if someone currently is high, or how much they have consumed recently – they can only decipher whether a person has used marijuana in the past 30 days or so.

Even so – as it currently stands – penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana could mean up to a year of license suspension, six months of jail time and a large fine, for a first-time DUI arrest. In Pennsylvania, the odor of marijuana can be enough for the police to pull a person over for DUI.

Until the State Senate passes the bill to amend the DUI law, there is a possibility of being charged with DUI. However, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recently established an expedited review program for non-violent marijuana offenders in Pennsylvania. Under this program, people who are legally allowed to use medicinal marijuana and who have been charged with DUI, are eligible to apply for a pardon.

If you were charged with DUI in Pennsylvania or are facing marijuana charges or other drug charges, contact our experienced Pittsburgh DUI and Drug Lawyers for a free consultation. Our attorneys can either help you apply for a pardon or fight the charges, depending on your circumstances.

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