Drunk driving is often a top concern for municipalities and motorists alike. However, drugged driving can also impair someone operating a vehicle.
Any amount of a controlled substance in a person’s system could open the individual to drugged driving charges. The penalties are comparable to a DUI from alcohol.
Drugged driving has stiff penalties
Drugged driving carries the same penalties as the highest tier of DUI charges for alcohol. A first offense can bring:
- Misdemeanor charges that go on the criminal record
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to six months of jail time
- License suspension for one year
- Possible drug assessment and treatment
Penalties increase when a driver faces additional convictions within a 10-year span.
Pennsylvania has zero tolerance for drugged driving
The state prohibits operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. The legal blood-alcohol content limit is .08.
For drugs, a law enforcement officer need only find a driver in possession of a Schedule I, II or III narcotic. If the driver does not have a valid prescription, the officer can charge the driver with a DUI, even if no drugs show up in the body at the time of the arrest.
Similarly, a conviction does not depend on the drugs showing up in the driver’s system. The officer’s account and testimony of authoritative professionals on the part of the prosecution have been enough to convict defendants.
Drugged driving charges can bring quite stringent penalties with less evidence than an alcohol-related DUI requires. Defendants have to consider all factors in how law enforcement and prosecutors handle the case to mount a strong defense.