Articles Posted in DUI DRUGS

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Under Pennsylvania’s DUI laws, it is unlawful for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. Controlled substances include not only drugs that were obtained illegally but also medications that were lawfully prescribed by a physician. In other words, simply because a motorist’s use of a controlled substance is lawful does not mean that they cannot be found guilty of DUI while driving under the influence of that substance. This was clarified in a recent Pennsylvania opinion issued in a case in which the court rejected the defendant’s argument that medical marijuana differed from marijuana in that it was not a controlled substance. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney about your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that an officer observed the defendant driving erratically. As such, the officer pulled the defendant over and began to question him. The defendant submitted to field tests which indicated to the officer that the defendant was under the influence of a controlled substance. As such, the officer arrested the defendant for suspicion of DUI.

Reportedly, a subsequent blood test indicated that the defendant had marijuana compounds and the metabolites of such compounds in his system. He was charged with driving while under the influence of a controlled substance and, following a trial, was found guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing that medical marijuana was not a controlled substance. Continue reading

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It is well-established that, under Pennsylvania law, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. This means not only that people cannot drive if they are impaired due to the consumption of alcohol but also that they can be accused of DUI crimes if they operate a car while under the influence of metabolites or controlled substances. Recently, a Pennsylvania court issued a ruling discussing the evidence the Commonwealth must introduce to support a conviction for a DUI controlled substance. If you are charged with driving while under the influence of prescription or illicit drugs, it is advisable to contact a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss your case.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the investigating officer responded to a call reporting that a man was unconscious inside an SUV. When he arrived at the scene, the officer observed the defendant sleeping in the driver’s seat of the SUV, which was parked by an intersection. The keys were in the ignition, and the vehicle was running. The officer awoke the defendant and asked him a series of questions. The defendant was unable to spell or write his name, was drooling, and his speech was slurred.

It is reported that the defendant agreed to submit to field sobriety testing, and the test results indicated he was impaired. He consented to a blood test, the result of which indicated the presence of numerous controlled substances. The Commonwealth charged him with DUI controlled substance and convicted him following a bench trial. He then appealed. Continue reading

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Under Pennsylvania law, there are numerous DUI crimes a person can be charged with, including DUI – combined influence of alcohol and drugs. In a recent case decided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the court addressed what constitutes sufficient evidence to convict a person of DUI – combined influence. If you reside in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI crime it is important to meet with a trusted Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss your charges and what evidence the Commonwealth may introduce against you at trial.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that at approximately 1:00 pm, while a police officer was conducting an investigation due to a report of erratic driving, he observed the defendant driving down the street. The defendant stopped her vehicle and advised the officer she wanted to speak with him, after which the officer directed the defendant to move her car to the side of the road. When the officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he noticed a strong odor of alcohol. He asked the defendant to exit her vehicle. The defendant complied and admitted to consuming a beer at 9:30 am.

It is alleged that the officer then asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. During the tests, she showed signs of impairment, but she passed two of the three tests she performed. The defendant then submitted to a blood test. Her BAC was 0.076% and her test results indicated the presence of Diazepam and Nordiazepam in her blood. She was subsequently charged with and convicted of DUI – combined influence. The defendant appealed, arguing that the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to prove her impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

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In a recent Philadelphia DUI case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated the appellant’s illegal probation revocation sentence and remanded for further proceedings.

In February 2008, the appellant was arrested in Philadelphia for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. A subsequent blood test showed that his blood had traces of marijuana. Roughly eight months later, he was again arrested for suspicion of DUI. A subsequent blood test showed that his blood had traces of marijuana.

In April 2009, he appeared before the Philadelphia Municipal Court to plead guilty to both the February 26th and October 16th DUI offenses. He entered into a negotiated plea deal in which his February 26th DUI would be sentenced as a “first offense,” and his October 16th DUI would be sentenced as a “second offense.”

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In a recent Pennsylvania DUI case, the state intermediate court recently affirmed the appellant’s sentence imposed following her convictions of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, operating a vehicle without a valid inspection sticker, and operating a vehicle without evidence of emission inspection.

On June 28, 2016, a Pennsylvania trooper was on traffic enforcement duty in East Lampeter Township when he observed a red car with expired inspection stickers. When the car passed his location, the trooper made a U-turn to pursue the vehicle.

The trooper caught up with the car and initiated a traffic stop. He informed the driver, the appellant, that he had pulled her over for an inspection violation, and he requested her license, registration, and proof of insurance. According to the trooper, it took the appellant more time to gather her information than it would for an average person during a non-DUI vehicle stop, and the appellant had difficulty locating her license, even though it was visible in her wallet. The trooper also noticed that the appellant’s pupils were “extremely constricted,” her speech was slurred, and she exhibited delayed reactions. The trooper asked the appellant whether she had taken any kind of medication, and she replied that she was on Adderall and Metformin. The trooper then asked the appellant whether she had taken any narcotics, and she replied that she has a prescription for oxycodone to manage pain and that she had taken some the previous evening.

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A Pennsylvania driver huffed difluoroethane, or DFE, while driving and killed another driver in a subsequent collision. Based on her past of losing consciousness after huffing DFE, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded this summer that her conduct constituted malice sufficient to support her convictions of third-degree murder and aggravated assault. The state high court therefore affirmed the superior court’s decision in this Pennsylvania DUI case.

Huffing while driving is more common than one might expect; it is an issue that often finds its way into the courts. Just this month, for example, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the impaired driving convictions of a woman who was found limp in her car three separate times after allegedly huffing DFE. One Minnesota Supreme Court Justice dissented; she argued the law lists hazardous chemical characteristics, and DFE falls under that category even though it’s not mentioned by name.

DFE is a colorless gas commonly used as a refrigerant or as a propellant for aerosol sprays and in gas duster products. DFE is defined as an inhalant, which also includes chemicals found in products like aerosol sprays, glue, cleaning fluids, paint thinner, nail polish remover, and lighter fuel. When these substances are inhaled through the nose or mouth, they can cause permanent physical and mental damage. They deprive the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly. People using inhalants can suffer nausea and nosebleeds, lose their sense of smell, or develop liver, kidney, and lung problems. Prolonged use can cause reduced muscle mass, tone, and strength. Inhalants can make people unable to move, walk, talk, and think normally. When the toxic fumes are sniffed straight into the sinuses, much of the damage is caused to the brain tissue. In addition to the above, inhalants can kill a person by heart attack or suffocation as the inhaled fumes take the place of oxygen in the lungs and central nervous system. A person who has huffed inhalants might also suddenly react with unexpected and extreme violence.

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A defendant appealed from the judgment of a sentence of nine to 16 months’ imprisonment entered in the York County Court of Common Pleas following his bench trial convictions of DUI, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving under suspension, DUI-related. He challenged the sufficiency of the evidence for his possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia convictions. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed his conviction.

The defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient because the Commonwealth failed to establish he constructively possessed the marijuana or drug paraphernalia found in the vehicle he was driving. He contended that the evidence did not prove that he knew the drugs or drug paraphernalia were in the vehicle or that he intended to possess or exercise dominion over the drugs. He emphasized that the vehicle in question belonged to his wife, and, as a passenger at the time in question, she was within arm’s reach of the contraband. Therefore, he claimed the evidence failed to establish that he was responsible for the drugs and drug paraphernalia in the car. Thus, he argued that the court should vacate his judgment of sentence. The Pennsylvania Superior Court found to the contrary that no relief was due.

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A.A. (a minor) appealed her adjudication of delinquency on charges of DUI, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a traffic violation. On appeal, A.A. solely challenged the juvenile court’s denial of her motion to suppress evidence. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed.

In January 2015, Sergeant Still of the Halifax Area Regional Police Department was on a routine traffic patrol when he observed a sedan straddling the center yellow lines. He conducted a check on the registration and found that it was expired, and then he initiated a traffic stop.

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Pennsylvania is now one of twenty four (24) states to legalize medical marijuana.  Just yesterday Governor Tom Wolf signed this bill into law.  The bill goes into detail on just how patients can take the marijuana if prescribed by a doctor.  Specifically an individual can take the marijuana in a pill, oil or liquid form.  This is important because many people I have talked to thought that when this bill passed they would be able to just smoke marijuana or even grow their own plants and this is just not the case.

The specific legislation that was passed outline seventeen (17) qualified diagnosed conditions that an individual must exhibit in order to be prescribed marijuana. The medical conditions covered include:

  • Cancer