Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

When most people think about a DUI, they visualize someone driving after drinking alcohol. However, alcohol is only one of many different substances that can impair your ability to safely drive a car. If you drive while you are under the influence of a drug, you can also be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. If you are facing charges of a DUI-D, the attorneys at DiCindio Law might be able to help you.

Driving after you have taken drugs, including certain prescription medications, marijuana, and illegal drugs, can impair your driving and result in a DUI charge. Having a prescription for your medication is not necessarily always a defense to a DUI-D.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12.8 million people drove while they were under the influence of drugs in 2017. in 2016, 43.6% of drivers who were drug tested after accidents in which someone was killed were positive for one or more drugs.

Different drugs have different effects on drivers. Drugs that impair your concentration, motor skills, judgment, or alertness are just as dangerous as alcohol.

How is drug impairment measured?

All of the states have made driving with a blood alcohol concentration that is above a certain level illegal. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It is fairly easy to measure your impairment when you are stopped by a law enforcement officer in many cases. By contrast, it is not as easy to measure other types of drugs and your level of impairment.

For instance, THC in marijuana can be detected in your blood for typically around 30 days after use. There is no way to determine actual impairment from marijuana at a given time based solely on levels in the system, alone. On the other hand, cocaine leaves your body in just a couple of days.

Some law enforcement agencies use drug recognition experts or DREs. These are police officers who have undergone training to determine the level of impairment from drugs in motorists. DREs look for cues such as your eye movements and behavior that might point to being under the influence of drugs. Typically, the presence of drugs in your blood or urine are tested using a urine test or blood screen.

Drugged driving per se

While it can be harder to prosecute motorists for DUI-D offenses, Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that has a drugged driving per se law. Under 75 Pa. § 3802, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any detectable level of certain types of drugs in your system. Under the statute, you cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your blood. You also cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III drugs if you do not have a prescription for it. Finally, you can also be charged with a DUI-D per se charge if you have metabolites of these drugs in your blood.

Effects of different drugs

Drugs can have different effects on you and on your ability to drive. Here are the effects of different types of drugs.

  • Cocaine- Can cause euphoria, dizziness, excitement, increased alertness, disorientation, confusion, irritability, aggressiveness, paranoia, and rapid heart rate.
  • LSD- Can cause hallucinations, delusions, impaired space, time, and depth, altered mental state, high blood pressure, and tremors.
  • Marijuana- Can cause euphoria, relaxation, altered perception of space and time, disorientation, paranoia, drowsiness, distorted images, and increased heart rate.
  • Methamphetamine – Can cause excitement, euphoria, delusions, hallucinations, poor impulse control, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.
  • Morphine and heroin- Can cause intense euphoria, relaxation, drowsiness, disconnectedness, sedation, analgesia, mental clouding, reduced heart rate, vomiting, nausea, and reduced reflexes.

Effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs

Certain drugs that you are prescribed or that you can buy over-the-counter can still impair your driving. You should read the warning labels of your prescriptions and your OTC drugs. Here are some common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair you:

  • Antidepressants- Certain antidepressants are sedating and can cause impairment similar to alcohol.
  • Antihistamines- Some can slow reaction time and impair your coordination.
  • Valium- Taking 10 mg of this drug can impair you in a similar manner as when you have a BAC of 0.10% after drinking alcohol.
  • Sleeping pills- Sleeping pills can still have residual effects in the morning.
  • Decongestants- These drugs can cause you to feel anxious, dizzy, and drowsy.
  • Hydrocodone- This is an opiate and can cause similar effects as morphine.

Even though Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, you can still be charged with a DUI-D if you are impaired at the time of driving.

Get legal help

Defending against a DUI-D can be tricky. If you are facing charges, it is important for you to seek legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At DiCindio Law, we understand the various types of defenses that might be available in a DUI-D case. We can review the facts and evidence in your case and explain the different options that you have available to you.

A DUI-D conviction can have serious consequences, including the potential for incarceration, steep fines, and other penalties. Even after you have completed your sentence, the conviction may cause long-lasting consequences on your life. You may have more trouble finding a job, finding housing, or securing educational loans. We will work to identify all of the defenses that might be available to you so that we can build the strongest defense case on your behalf. To learn more about the options that you might have, call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation.

How to Avoid a Criminal Record for First-Time Offenders

If you have a criminal record, it can seriously impact your life. A conviction can cause you to lose your job or to have problems finding a new position. Some convictions may cause you to lose your ability to get financial aid for school. You could also lose your government benefits and have trouble getting into a college of your choice or into the military. If you are a first-time offender of a minor offense, you might be able to participate in a diversion program to avoid a conviction.

Every county in Pennsylvania has its own district attorney’s office. These offices have their own diversion programs and admission requirements. At DiCindio Law, we can advise you about whether you might qualify for a diversion program and help you to apply if you do. The benefit of these programs is that your charges could be withdrawn, and you might be able to have them expunged from your record. Some of the diversion programs that are available in Chester County include the following:

• Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD
• Drug Court
• Mental Health Court pre-plea or post-plea diversion

What is a diversion program?

A diversion program allows you to have your criminal case diverted away from going to trial. Depending on whether your diversion is pre- or post-plea, you might not have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You may be assigned a probation officer who will supervise your progress in the diversion program. When you successfully complete it, the charges against you may be dismissed or withdrawn. They can then be expunged from your record. Commonly, these programs require you to pay fines, perform community service, attend drug and alcohol treatment, and attend other classes. You may also be required to meet with the probation officer and to submit to drug and alcohol tests. If you are placed in a diversion program, it is important that you comply with all of the instructions so that you can complete it and have your charges dismissed.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)

The ARD program was created by statute and is available in all counties in Pennsylvania. If you do not have any prior arrests or have a very limited history, you might be eligible for the ARD program. The ARD program may be available to you if you are facing charges for a low-level misdemeanor, including the following types (depending on the county you are charged in):

  • DUI
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Harassment
  • Simple assault
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Retail theft
  • Passing bad checks
  • Simple possession

The District Attorney determines who can be admitted into the ARD program. Even if you are facing one of the previously listed charges, the circumstances might result in you being rejected from ARD. Conversely, if you have been overcharged, it is possible that you might gain admission to ARD even if you are facing more serious charges.

Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you to gain admission to the ARD program. An attorney might know how to complete the application and who to talk to at the DA’s office in order to give you the best chances of being admitted.

Drug Court

The Chester County Drug Court Program was the second such program in the state of Pennsylvania. This program is available to people who are charged with non-mandatory drug crimes or DUIs with drug offenses who do not have any record of violent offenses. In order to be eligible to participate, you must waive your right to a preliminary hearing and legally reside in the U.S.

The District Attorney has discretion about who to admit to the drug court program. Your lawyer can submit an application on your behalf, and you will have to complete a drug and alcohol assessment. If you are accepted, you will be assigned to a probation officer for intensive supervision. You will go through several phases during the program, and you must submit to drug and alcohol tests, appear before the court for regular reviews, and comply with all of the program’s rules. You will also have to actively seek or maintain a job or engage in productive activity each day and pay costs and fines. If you successfully complete all of the phases of the drug court program, maintain your sobriety, and have stable employment (among potential other conditions) the court will dismiss your charges and you can expunge them from your record.

If you violate any of the conditions of the drug court program, you can be removed from it or receive sanctions. The program takes from 12 to 24 months and goes through four phases. If you violate the program, the program may last longer. If you are removed from it, you will face the underlying charges and will have to handle them through the regular criminal court process.

Mental health court

The mental health court program is available on a pre-plea or post-plea diversionary basis or as a referral from probation. You may be eligible for mental health court if you are diagnosed with a mental illness or a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder and have been charged with a misdemeanor or certain felony offenses. The mental health court staff complete screenings to determine eligibility. If you are accepted into the program, you will move through four phases. If your participation was completed on a pre-plea diversionary basis, the charges may be dismissed upon your successful completion. If you were referred and accepted to the program on a post-plea diversionary basis, you will be required to complete the programs supervision requirements after pleading guilty.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you are a first offender of a low-level misdemeanor offense or are facing charges for certain felony drug offenses, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Contact DiCindio Law to learn more about diversion and whether it might be a good choice for you.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office building.

Located in downtown West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania and built in 1900 – the firm’s building has undergone a top to bottom renovation/restoration with the idea of preserving and repairing the building to the beauty it once was and providing Mike’s client’s with a comfortable and accessible office location and atmosphere.

Mike DiCindio looks forward to continuing to serve his current and future client’s for years to come at this new location.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer and West Chester Personal Injury Lawyer

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Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana – Other forms

Sentencing guidelines provide Courts in Pennsylvania with the ability to have a standard range of sentences that are imposed for certain similarly situated offenders and crimes.  One of the major aims of these guidelines is to have a level of consistency in sentencing.  Each crime is assigned an offense gravity score which when combined with an offender’s prior record score on a sentencing grid provides the sentencing guidelines (all established by the legislature).

One common drug charge in Pennsylvania is distribution of marijuana.  Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana is a crime that is common but has also become more complicated in recent years.  In the past the only substance that was typically being sold or possessed was the actual marijuana / seeds or the plant alone.  Recently, possessing oils and other forms of THC outside of the plant and seeds creates enhanced potential sentencing penalties – and is being seen more often.  In a case where only marijuana is possessed and/or sold the sentencing guidelines may not be as high as they would be in the event that THC oil was possessed and/or sold.  This is because the THC oil is not included in the definition of marijuana in the controlled substance act of Pennsylvania. Therefore, it would be treated as a general schedule I/II controlled substance which has a higher offense gravity score under PA law.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense - Conspiracy Cases

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Despite the recent decriminalization talks throughout the country and the state it is important to remember that marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and possessing different forms of it may create complications or higher potential penalties.

 “Marihuana” consists of all forms, species and/or varieties of the genus Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not;  the seeds thereof;  the resin extracted from any part of such plant;  and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin;  but shall not include tetrahydrocannabinols, the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. (See, Pennsylvania Statutes Title 35 P.S. Health and Safety § 780-102 § 780-102. Definitions


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Rule 600 in Pennsylvania

The wheels of justice turn slowly. An old saying that we who practice in the criminal defense field think about weekly – if not daily. Even though the slow crawl that criminal cases sometimes take is to be expected at times, it is important to understand that as an individual charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you have a right to a prompt trial and resolution to your case.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

First, it must be noted that the prompt trial rule or “Rule 600” is different than the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to CHARGE an individual with a crime or forever be barred from doing so. Rule 600 and the prompt trial requirements instead deal with the amount of time the government has to prosecute a person once they have been charged.

There are two main portions of Rule 600. First, that the government has 365 days to commence trial once charges have been brought. If they do not do that, a motion must be filed by the defense and the charges will be dismissed with prejudice if a violation of this time limit has been found by the Court. Second, no person may be held in custody on bail for longer than 180 from the commencement of the prosecution. If this occurs the defense must file a motion and if a violation is found by the Court the defendant will be placed on nominal bail.

Obviously, this is subject to limitations and the unique circumstances of each case dictate the strength of a Rule 600 motion. For example, one of the main limitations is that time extensions requested by the defense or not attributable to the prosecution are not counted in the 365 or 180 day time period – among other things.

If you or a loved one believe that you may have a prompt trial issue or if you have been charged with a criminal offense at all, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC for all of your criminal needs and begin preparing your defense today.

 

__________________

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Heroin Overdose Cases

A major focus of law-enforcement recent years and especially in recent months has been in preventing heroin overdose deaths from occurring. Heroin overdose cases have become an epidemic that law-enforcement, legislators and the communities at large are trying to combat. With the vicious effects of a heroin overdose, people must act fast. It is not uncommon to have two users together when one of them overdoses. Many times, people would be fearful to report the overdoses for fear of prosecution in the matter – and people would lose their lives. Recently, legislation has been enacted which is aimed at ending these types of situations and deaths and stopping the risk of certain criminal charges in these situations.

Chester County criminal defense

Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

The recently enacted law permits individuals to call law-enforcement, emergency medical services or 911 and report a heroin overdose. If they provide their name and identifying information and stay with the individual who is overdosing they will be immune for prosecution for certain minor offenses (those are enumerated in the amended law) and the individual who overdoses is also immune. It should not be viewed and is not intended to be viewed as a license to commit illegal conduct, instead, it is aimed at helping to minimize the frequency of deaths from heroin overdoses.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or prosecuted in the circumstance that seems similar to the one described above contact criminal defense lawyer DiCindio Law, LLC today law speak in detail to Mike DiCindio about the facts and circumstances and determine whether or not the amended legislation applies to your specific situation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Search Warrant – What is required and how is one challenged

West Chester Criminal Lawyer

Contact Chester County Criminal Defense and DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio today.

Drug cases, gun cases and many other countless cases in the criminal system begin with a search warrant. At times, some of these cases also end with a search warrant. If a search warrant is involved in a criminal case, a criminal defense attorney should review the warrant in depth and with a fine tooth comb for all potential flaws and/or legal deficiencies.

Before a search warrant is approved, a law enforcement officer must allege facts in an affidavit of probable cause. The evidence and facts in support of a warrant must lead to the conclusion that probable cause exists to believe the items the officers are looking for are connected with criminal activity and that the items will be found in the place that to be searched under the warrant. If a neutral judge finds that probable cause exists – the search warrant will be approved.

Within the request in the warrant – the items/person being sought and the place to be searched must be described with particularity. Meaning, there should be nothing left to the discretion of the officers when they are describing the “things” to be seized AND it should give the officers ample information and description in order to allow them to identify the things and places to be searched and seized. “General” warrants are frowned upon in our system.

As a criminal defense attorney, it is important that whenever a warrant is involved in a matter, all portions and documents of the warrant must be obtain and reviewed thoroughly. If any of the requirements of the rules and constitutional protections governing the issuance of warrants seem to be lacking a motion should be filed to address this matter before the Court. If the warrant is found to be legally deficient or defective and no exception to the warrant requirement is present – the remedy may be suppression of the evidence seized.

If you or a loved one has a criminal case involving a search warrant, call West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio to schedule your free consultation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.

Drug Paraphernalia..Do they have to prove it was to be used with drugs?

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under Pennsylvania law, there is a statute that prohibits possessing anything for:

 

“The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.”

 

It may seem like a statute that encompasses a lot of circumstances and items – and it does. Still, what must be understood is that while many different items may seemingly “fit” under the statutes verbiage – the Commonwealth still has the burden to prove that the alleged drug paraphernalia was exactly that – drug paraphernalia.

 

How do they do that and what does it really mean? There is case law that states the Commonwealth must prove a specific intent that the item possessed or delivered was to be used with controlled substances.

 

Now, what does this mean – practically speaking?

 

The Commonwealth must provide more than the item itself. They must prove that there was the intent to use the item with/for/etc. a controlled substance. Further, a skilled criminal defense attorney should cross-examine the Commonwealth witnesses and potentially point out legal uses for the items claimed to be drug paraphernalia.

 

While there are many cases where there is other circumstantial or corroborative evidence that the item claimed to be drug paraphernalia was in fact just that – the law must be understood, and a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney will be aware of what the law requires and make sure the Commonwealth is made to meet its burden fully and completely.