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.
Controlled Substances as Defined by Pennsylvania Law
The court rejected the defendant’s argument. In doing so, it analyzed whether marijuana remains a controlled substance for purposes of Pennsylvania’s DUI law by reviewing the case law and statutory framework pertaining to the medical marijuana act, the controlled substances act, and the vehicle code. The court ultimately found that, contrary to the defendant’s assertions, medical marijuana was still marijuana, and as such, it was a controlled substance.
The court clarified that marijuana continued to be considered a controlled substance despite the fact that people may legally consume marijuana for medical purposes under the medical marijuana act. Consequently, the court definitively stated that iit s illegal for a person to drive with any marijuana in their system, medical or otherwise. Therefore, it affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
Talk to a Dedicated Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney
Under Pennsylvania law, people can be charged with DUI crimes not only for driving while under the influence of alcohol but also for operating a vehicle while impaired due to the use of controlled substances. If you are faced with DUI charges arising out of the use of a controlled substance, it is wise to talk to an attorney about what measures you can take to protect your interests. to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Zachary B. Cooper is a seasoned Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer who can inform you of your options and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Cooper through the form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a meeting.