Are The Penalties The Same For DUIs Involving Prescription Medication?

According to the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, 131 million adults in the U.S. take prescription medications. As people grow older, they take more prescription drugs to treat a variety of health conditions. With so many adults taking legally prescribed drugs in the nation, you might be surprised to learn that you can be charged with a DUI for driving while impaired by your prescription medications in Pennsylvania. In fact, the penalties you might face for driving under the influence of prescription medications could be worse than the penalties you might face for having a few drinks before driving.

If you are facing drugged DUI charges for driving with prescription drugs in your system, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in West Chester, PA at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. An attorney can help you to fight the charges against you and potentially minimize the penalties. Police officers frequently make mistakes when they stop people and conduct investigations, and identifying and challenging these errors could result in a dismissal or reduction of your charges. Here is some information about DUIs on prescription drugs in Pennsylvania.

Driving under the influence of prescription drugs

Pennsylvania’s drugged driving laws are found in 75 P.S.CS 3802(d). Under this statute, you can be charged with a DUI when you drive, operate, or have actual physical control of a vehicle while you are impaired by a drug or a combination of drugs and alcohol. This prohibition includes many different substances, including some prescribed medications.

If you take a Schedule II or Schedule III prescription medication without a valid prescription, you can also be charged under Pennsylvania’s zero-tolerance law in 75 Pa.C.S. 3802(d)(1). Under this section, you can be charged with a drugged DUI if you have any amount of a non-prescribed Schedule I, Schedule II, or Schedule III drug in your system or a metabolite regardless of whether or not you are impaired.
If you do have a valid prescription for a drug found in your system, it is not a defense to an impairment drugged DUI. Instead, the prosecutor will only be required to prove that you were impaired while you drove, operated, or had actual physical control over your vehicle. The prosecutor may introduce testimony from a drug recognition expert to try to secure a conviction.

What are the penalties for a prescription drug DUI?

While Pennsylvania has three penalty tiers for alcohol DUIs based on the BAC of the drivers within two hours of driving, all people who are charged with drugged driving will automatically face the harshest penalties for the highest BAC DUI offense.

For a first offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor on your record
  • Jail from three days up to six months
  • Fine from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse screening and treatment if ordered
  • 12-month suspension of your driving privileges

For alcohol, these penalties are reserved for people whose BAC tests at 0.16% or higher. This means that you could face the same charges for driving while impaired by your prescription medications as someone who drank large quantities of alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

What is a controlled substance

Defenses to a prescription drug DUI

If you are facing a prescription drug DUI, your criminal defense lawyer will review the evidence to identify the defenses that might be available to you.

Some of the potential defenses might include the following:

  • There was no reasonable suspicion for the officer to stop your car.
  • A DUI checkpoint was set up and run incorrectly.
  • The roadside tests were administered improperly.
  • The officer did not have probable cause to support your arrest.
  • The officer did not obtain your consent or a warrant to seize your blood.
  • Your blood was drawn, stored, handled, or transported improperly.
  • The lab tests were not conducted properly.
  • Metabolites in your system did not indicate impairment.
  • Your driving was not impaired.

Your attorney will also look for inaccuracies in the police report, review any video evidence of the roadside tests, and review the chain of custody information for your blood sample. He or she might also talk to an expert to review the analysis of your blood sample and file evidentiary motions to challenge any evidence that was gathered illegally.

If you do not have a strong defense available, your attorney might still be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to secure a favorable plea offer to a lesser charge or sentence.

Get help from a DUI attorney near me

One of the first things you should do after being charged with a DUI for prescription drugs is to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in West Chester, PA. Your lawyer can help you to understand the options that might be available to you and prepare defenses against your charges. Many people are able to safely drive their vehicles even though they take prescription medications by being careful with the timing. Your attorney can work to secure the most favorable outcome possible for your case. Contact DiCindio Law today at (610) 430-3535.

 

What You Need To Know About Drugged Driving in PA

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI involving drugs. A DUI drug offense can be charged when you drive while impaired to the slightest degree by any type of drug, including prescription medications. You can also face a charge of driving under the influence of drugs if you drive with any measurable amount of a controlled I or controlled II substance in your body that is illegal or for which you do not have a valid prescription. If you are facing drugged DUI charges, you should seek immediate legal help from an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law.

What are Pennsylvania’s Drugged Driving Laws?

Drugged driving is prohibited under 75 Pa.CS § 3802(d).

Under this law, you can be charged with a drugged driving offense if you drove, had actual physical control, or operated a motor vehicle when any of the following situations applies:

  • You have a Schedule I controlled substance in your blood.
  • You have a Schedule II controlled substance in your blood that is not legally prescribed to you.
  • You have a Schedule III controlled substance in your blood that is not legally prescribed to you.
  • You have a metabolite of a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance in your blood without a prescription.
  • Your ability to drive a vehicle is impaired by drugs in your system or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
  • You are under the influence of a solvent or noxious substance prohibited under 18 Pa.CS § 7303.

The zero-tolerance law in Pennsylvania

Under 75 Pa.CS 3802(d)(1), Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance law for drugged driving. You can be charged with this offense if you are driving, operating, or have actual physical control of a car when you have a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance for which you do not have a valid prescription. This law means that you can be charged with a DUI even if you are not impaired by trace amounts of drugs or their metabolites in your system at the time of your stop and arrest.

How Is a DUI Blood Test Conducted in Pennsylvania_

Zero-tolerance drugged DUI vs. impaired driving drugged DUI

You can also be charged with a drugged driving DUI if you are under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol and are impaired from the ability to safely drive, operate, or

physically control your vehicle. For this section, the prosecutor is not required to prove that you had drugs present in your system to win a conviction. Instead, the prosecutor could rely on the officer’s observations of you to argue that you were impaired by drugs, solvents, or noxious substances.

Police agencies and prosecutors rely on drug recognition experts to secure convictions in drugged driving impairment DUIs. These are officers who have undergone training classes put on by their departments in how to recognize the signs of drug-related impairment. Unlike the standardized field sobriety tests that have been promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the tests administered by DREs are not standardized. They do not have outside scientific studies to back them up beyond biased studies completed by law enforcement agencies. However, courts still allow DREs to testify in drugged driving cases about their identification of drugged drivers and the types of drugs that allegedly caused the driver’s impairment.

When a DRE administers tests, he or she will look for signs of impairment. If he or she determines the driver is impaired, the DRE will then determine whether the impairment is related to a medical condition or drugs. If the DRE believes that the driver is impaired by drugs, he or she will then determine the type or types of drugs that are causing the driver to be impaired.

Patrol officers will often call DREs to traffic stops when they suspect impairment by a substance other than alcohol. DREs nearly always determine that the drivers are impaired by drugs and are normally unwilling to back down from their assessments even when confronted by contradictory evidence in court.

In a zero-tolerance drugged DUI case, the prosecutor is not required to prove impairment. Instead, the only thing the prosecutor will be required to prove is that the driver had a minimal level of a scheduled controlled substance or its metabolite in his or her blood without a valid prescription within two hours of his or her arrest.

What are the penalties for drugged driving?

The penalties for drugged DUI offenses are the same as for alcohol-related DUIs at the highest BAC tier level. While alcohol DUIs are divided into tiers based on a driver’s BAC, people who are charged with drugged driving automatically face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI tier.

For a first offense drugged DUI conviction, you will face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor
  • From 72 hours to six months in jail
  • Fine up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Drug assessment and treatment if ordered

If you are convicted of a second offense within the past 10 years, you will face the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • From 90 days up to five years in prison
  • Fine up to $10,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 18 months
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Drug assessment and treatment if ordered

For a third DUI conviction within 10 years, you will face the following penalties:

  • Third-degree felony
  • From one to five years in prison
  • Fine up to $10,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 18 months
  • Drug assessment and treatment if ordered

Potential defenses to drugged driving charges

The defenses that your attorney might be able to assert will depend on the facts of your case. Some of the types of defenses that might be available include the following:

  • Officer did not have reasonable suspicion to support a stop
  • Officer did not have probable cause to support your arrest
  • Officer did not have a search warrant to seize your blood
  • There were problems with the chain of custody for your blood sample
  • Your blood test results were inaccurate
  • The tests performed at the roadside were conducted improperly
  • You had a valid prescription for a Schedule II or III substance detected for a zero-tolerance DUI

What if you are sleeping it off in your car?

If you get into an argument with your spouse while drinking and decide to go sleep it off in your vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI. The officer may decide that you are in actual physical control of your car even though you are asleep. The prosecutor might look for evidence that you were operating your car before you fell asleep. For example, if you drove away from your house to the corner store before returning to your driveway, the prosecutor might find witnesses who saw you driving.

Get help from a DUI attorney near me

If you are facing drugged DUI charges, it is important for you to speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling us at (610) 430-3535.

 

Can Police Give Me A DUI If I’m In My Own Driveway?

Can Police Give Me A DUI If I’m In My Own Driveway?

Some people in Pennsylvania think that they cannot be charged with a DUI if they are in their driveways. However, that is not necessarily true. You can be charged with a DUI even when you are on your property. Regardless of what happened, you should talk to an experienced PA DUI attorney. At DiCindio Law, we can evaluate your charges and help you to defend against them.

DUI law in Pennsylvania

Some states specifically refer to motorists being on a public highway before they can be charged with DUI offenses. However, under Pennsylvania’s DUI statute, no mention of a public roadway is made. Instead, 38 Pa.CS § 3802 prohibits people from driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of their vehicles’ movements after they have drunk enough alcohol to be impaired. Under this definition, you can be in your driveway and be arrested for a DUI if you are under the influence of alcohol and behind the wheel of your vehicle.

Actual physical control

Pennsylvania’s statute includes driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. Being in actual physical control of your vehicle means that you could reasonably drive your vehicle even if it is not turned on.

When people are in driveways, they might be stopped by a police officer who suspects that they have recently returned home or are about to back out while under the influence. This prevents people from arguing that they were not driving at the time the officer stopped them since they could have recently driven or were about to drive while intoxicated. If you have your keys and are capable of driving, the officer might accuse you of being in actual physical control of your vehicle rather than having to present evidence that you were driving. This law makes it important for you to avoid getting into your vehicle when you have been drinking alcohol even if it is parked in your driveway.

What do police look for?

In most cases in which someone is charged with a DUI in his or her driveway, the officer will have previously observed the person’s vehicle being operated in an unsafe manner before the person made it home. 

Some of the types of driving behaviors that police look for include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Weaving
  • Tailgating
  • Failing to obey traffic control devices
  • Revving the engine
  • Swerving within a lane
  • Excessive honking
  • Delayed reactions

Your neighbors might also call the police if you are engaging in obnoxious behaviors. This can bring the police to your property, and if they find you in your car with your car keys, they can charge you with a DUI if you have been drinking.

The legal limit in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a general impairment DUI if you have a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08% and 0.099%. However, the police can also charge you with a DUI if they believe that the amount of alcohol you drunk has made you incapable of driving safely. However, in the case of arresting you out of your driveway, if you had a very low BAC that was less than the legal limit or an unmeasured BAC, the officer will need to have strong evidence to show why you were incapable of driving safely.

Can the police charge you with a DUI on a lawnmower?

You can be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania if you are on a riding lawnmower, but that is unlikely to happen. One case in Pennslyvania in 2015 involved a man who was arrested for a DUI on a riding lawnmower while carrying beer. However, he was not in his yard and was instead riding his lawnmower down the street.

What if you are sleeping it off in your car?

If you get into an argument with your spouse while drinking and decide to go sleep it off in your vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI. The officer may decide that you are in actual physical control of your car even though you are asleep. The prosecutor might look for evidence that you were operating your car before you fell asleep. For example, if you drove away from your house to the corner store before returning to your driveway, the prosecutor might find witnesses who saw you driving.

Get help from a DUI attorney near me

Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are strict. You can be charged with a DUI even though you were parked in your driveway at the time of your stop. If an officer saw you driving erratically before you reached your home, he or she could find you in your driveway and have reasonable suspicion to stop you. 

If your neighbors called the police because of you acting erratically, the officers can also come to your home and charge you with a DUI if they believe you were operating your vehicle or are in actual physical control of it. Your driveway is not a safe zone protecting you from a DUI arrest.

If the police charged you with a DUI while you were in your driveway, you should get legal help. Contact DiCindio Law to speak to a PA DUI attorney by calling us at 610.430.3535.

 

Will I go to jail for my first DUI in PA?

If you have been charged with your first DUI offense, you may feel frightened and overwhelmed. Many people who are charged with DUI’s for the first time have limited or no experience with the criminal justice system. DUI cases are treated harshly in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted, you can face serious penalties. Whether or not you might spend time in jail for your first DUI offense will depend on your BAC level at the time of your arrest and whether any aggravating circumstances apply.

What are the penalties for a first DUI offense in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania divides DUI cases into three categories that depend on the blood alcohol content of the drivers at the time of their arrests. These categories have increasingly severe penalties as the BAC level increases. For people who refuse to take chemical tests and those who are charged with DUI drugs, they will automatically face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI offense.

General impairment DUI

Prosecutors charge people with general impairment DUI’s when their BAC’s ranged from 0.08% to 0.99% at the time of their arrests. 

For this offense, a first conviction will result in the following penalties:

  • Probation for up to six months
  • Minimum fine of at least $300
  • Alcohol treatment at the court’s discretion
  • Alcohol classes

Jail is not generally ordered for a first conviction of this offense.

 

First high BAC DUI conviction

Prosecutors charge people with BACs from 0.10% up to 0.159% with high BAC DUIs. 

If you are convicted, you will face the following consequences:

  • 48 hours of jail and parole for six months
  • Fine from $500 up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Alcohol classes
  • Substance abuse treatment at the court’s discretion
 

Highest BAC DUI first offense

The highest BAC DUI carries the most severe penalties for a first offense. These penalties apply to people who have BACs of 0.16% or higher at the time of their arrests. They also apply if you are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or if you refused to submit to a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test. 

If you are convicted of this offense as a first-time DUI offender, you will face the following penalties:

  • Three days in jail and parole for six months
  • Fine from $1,000 up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Substance abuse treatment may be ordered
  • alcohol classes
 

Minors and commercial drivers

If you are under the age of 21 or are a commercial driver, you can face harsh penalties even if you had a very low amount of alcohol in your system. Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance law for minors. 

If you have a very small percentage of alcohol in your blood at the time of your arrest as a minor for a DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • 48 hours in jail followed by six months of parole
  • Fine from $500 up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Alcohol classes
  • Substance abuse treatment
If you are a commercial truck driver, you can be charged with a DUI with a BAC of as little as 0.04%. For a first conviction, you will face the same penalties as those faced by adults convicted of high BAC offenses. School bus drivers who have BACs of 0.02% can also face penalties for high BAC DUIs.
 

First DUIs that result in the death of another person

If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI through which you caused an accident that resulted in someone else’s death, the penalties are very serious. This is a second-degree felony punishable by a minimum term of three years in prison. If more than one person was killed, the court will order consecutive three-year sentences for each victim.
 

First DUI with a minor younger than 18 in the car

If you are convicted of a first DUI offense while you had a passenger in your vehicle who was younger than age 18, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. You will face the penalties for the underlying DUI for your BAC level and will also be ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and to pay a minimum fine of $1,000.

ARD for first-offense PA DUIs

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program is an alternative to taking your chances through the court process. This program is available to many first-time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania who have limited or no criminal records. If you are approved for ARD, you will have to complete a number of requirements as ordered by the court. Your case will be set aside for a time while you complete the program. These requirements include waiving your right to a speedy trial, undergoing an alcohol and drug evaluation, complying with treatment recommendations, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, performing community service, paying court costs and restitution, and others. If you successfully complete ARD, your charge will be dismissed. You will then be able to ask the court to expunge your records of the DUI case.

Not everyone is eligible for ARD. You will not be eligible if you caused a vehicle accident that seriously injured or killed someone else. You also will not be eligible if you had a child younger than age 14 in your car when you were arrested. Finally, you will not be eligible if you did not have insurance or a valid license at the time of your DUI arrest.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Depending on your BAC level and other factors surrounding your DUI charge, you might have to spend time in jail if you are convicted. Even if you are facing a general impairment offense, it is still a good idea to talk to a DUI Defense Attorney to determine whether ARD might be a good option for you. Call us for an appointment at 610.430.3535.

Can I beat a DUI without a lawyer?

Can I beat a DUI without a lawyer?

If you are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you will face serious penalties if convicted. Having a DUI conviction on your record can also cause ongoing problems in your life. A conviction can cause problems for you when you apply for jobs, credit, and housing. If you have a criminal record, you may also face stigma and have problems in your interpersonal relationships.

The penalties you might face for a DUI will depend on your record, your BAC, and whether any aggravating factors were present. If you had a high BAC or prior DUI convictions within the past seven years, the penalties can be even more severe and include a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

Should you try to fight a DUI on your own?

Some people think that they can fight a DUI on their own because they want to save money. While you are not required to hire an attorney to defend you against a DUI charge, it is rarely a good idea for you to try to represent yourself in a DUI case. Criminal defense attorneys have years of legal education and experience in defending against DUI cases. They understand how to analyze the evidence to identify problems with how the investigations and stops were completed. A good defense lawyer will also be familiar with the prosecutors and the judges in the court where you are being prosecuted as well as the court procedures.

If you represent yourself, you will be expected to have the legal knowledge for how to admit evidence, challenge evidence, cross-examine witnesses, make objections, and follow the court’s procedures in the same way the prosecutor is required to do. Representing yourself means that you will need to understand how to analyze the evidence against you, identify any issues, and challenge the problems you find.

While it is possible for you to win your DUI case without the help of an attorney, the chances that you will prevail are low. If you try to negotiate a plea agreement without help, you are unlikely to get as good of an offer as an attorney might secure on your behalf. It is very difficult to assess evidence and to prepare a proper defense without the help of an experienced attorney.

Will I win if I hire an attorney?

A competent DUI attorney can never guarantee the outcome of a criminal case. However, securing legal advice from an experienced DUI defense lawyer is one of the first things that you do after you are charged. A lawyer at DiCindio Law can carefully analyze the evidence against you to determine the best legal defense strategies to take. When you hire a qualified attorney, you will have a better chance of securing a better plea offer or winning a dismissal of the charges against you than if you opt to represent yourself.

An experienced defense attorney will likely understand more about how DUI’s are prosecuted than

most people. The legal process as portrayed on television shows is not what you will encounter in your case. Instead, attorneys spend years studying the law and criminal procedure rules to understand how to best defend their clients against criminal charges. Your attorney should also stay up-to-date with changes in the law as they occur by attending continuing legal education courses, reading case decisions, and following legislative changes to the state’s DUI laws.

How do you defend against a DUI charge?

Defending against a DUI charge will require a careful analysis of the evidence and the police reports. 

Depending on your situation, some of the following defenses might be available:

  • Illegal stop/No reasonable suspicion
  • Unconstitutional search or seizure
  • Errors in breath testing
  • Errors in drawing, storing, or transporting blood samples
  • Analytical errors
  • Lack of probable cause for an arrest
  • Mistakes made during the standardized field sobriety tests

If you do not have an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you, identifying the defenses that might be available to you can be very difficult. Your lawyer should know how the law applies to DUI stops, searches, seizures, and investigations and understand how to challenge any errors that were made.

Can a public defender help?

If you do not have money to hire a private defense lawyer, you can ask the court to appoint a public defender to represent you. Choosing a public defender is a better option than trying to represent yourself. Public defenders are attorneys who have also graduated from law school and are admitted to practice law. The main problem with having a public defender represent you is that they have huge caseloads, which means that your lawyer may not have much time to spend on your case.

If you can afford to hire a private DUI defense lawyer, that might be your best option. Private defense lawyers are able to keep their caseloads to a manageable level so that they can spend more time on each case. This might help you to secure the best outcome for your case possible.

Get help from a DUI attorney near me

You should never take a DUI charge lightly. While you might think that you can save money by representing yourself, the long-term costs of a conviction may be much higher than you might realize. It is a good idea to consult with an experienced PA DUI attorney at DiCindio Law. Michael DiCindio is a former prosecutor and highly skilled defense attorney who understands the types of approaches the state takes when prosecuting DUI cases. Contact us today at 610.430.3535 to schedule a confidential consultation.