Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

Prescription Marijuana Could Result in a DUI Arrest In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recently hopped on board the ever-growing list of states that have made medical marijuana possible for chronically ill people. However, the new law did not address, nor change, the current DUI laws. As such, considering the archaic nature of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, it remains illegal to drive with any marijuana in one’s system. This article will seek to clarify the law about driving and marijuana use in Pennsylvania.

DUI Laws in Downingtown, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle with marijuana in one’s blood system. Driving and operating a vehicle is obvious – whether a driver is on a highway or roadway, he or she is driving.

It is important to note the latter phrase “actual physical control.” This statement incorporates non-moving conduct, such as sitting in a parked vehicle with the engine running.

Therefore, even if a driver does not have an intention of driving the vehicle, he still has physical control of the vehicle’s movements. Under this scenario, he or she could be arrested.

Penalties for Cannabis-Based DUI in Chester County, PA

DUI offenses in Pennsylvania involving a controlled substance, such as marijuana, are subject to the highest penalties possible. The range of penalties that can be imposed on a defendant are contingent on the existence of prior DUI convictions, if any.

For a conviction, under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(d), the following mandatory minimum penalties apply:

Mandatory
Incarceration

Minimum
Fine

License Suspension

Ignition Interlock

First Offense

72 hours

$1,000

12 months

No

Second Offense

90 days

$1,500

18 months

Yes

Third Offense

1 year

$2,500

18 months

Yes

Fourth + Offense

1 year

$2,500

18 months

Yes

Medicinal Marijuana Could Result in a DUI in Norristown, PA

Under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(d)(1), it is illegal to drive with any amount of a Schedule I Controlled Substance in a driver’s blood system. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under both Pennsylvania and Federal law; however, marijuana is unique in that it contains both active and inactive ingredients. Some drivers will show signs of recent marijuana use during a traffic stop. A majority of driver’s won’t show any signs of recent marijuana use, but will still have inactive metabolites in their system.

Prescription Marijuana Results in a DUI Arrest in Lancaster, PA

There are no current medical marijuana laws that protect drivers in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. It is irrelevant if a patient’s ID card is from a state that either allows medical marijuana patients to drive or otherwise legalizes marijuana.

This means, driving under the influence of marijuana, including medically prescribed marijuana, could potentially result in an individual being arrested for a DUI offense in Pennsylvania.

Effectively Dispute a Marijuana-based DUI in West Chester, PA

Most first time offenders will be eligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Upon successful completion of this program, all DUI charges qualify for dismissal and expungement.

Similarly, some defendants find the benefit of being admitted to Drug Court for marijuana-related cases. Successful completion of Drug Court allows the same charges to be dismissed and expungeable.

For defendants who are ineligible for ARD or Drug Court, there are still options to fight a DUI based on marijuana, such as:

  • A member of law enforcement must be within his or her jurisdiction to approach, investigate and/or arrest an individual.
  • A member of law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to stop a moving vehicle or detain a person in a non-moving vehicle.
  • Defendants have the right to cross-examine and discredit an officer’s testimony regarding impairment.
  • A member of law enforcement must have probable cause to arrest a person for marijuana-based DUI.
  • Blood tests must be obtained with a driver’s consent or valid warrant.
  • Blood tests must be administered pursuant to specific rules and regulations.
  • Even if a blood test shows the presence of marijuana, the test must still be admissible in a court of law.

Things To Remember If Arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania

A few words of advice apply to all criminal defendants. If you have been arrested or accused of a marijuana-based DUI,

  • Do not speak to, text, write or otherwise communicate to anyone about your case, especially the officer.
  • Do not post anything to social media platforms about your case, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
  • Consult an attorney right away to preserve your options, including eligibility for ARD or Drug Court.
  • Write down everything you remember about the night of the arrest, from the pre-arrest period to being released from the police station.
  • If there are any witnesses, such as a passenger, have them do the same as above.

The trial-proven attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm handle all forms of DUI cases, including DUI by marijuana and DUI by any other controlled substance. It is imperative to speak with an attorney before your first hearing.

If you have been arrested for DUI and fear you may have had any marijuana in your system at the time of your arrest, call the Skinner Law Firm today to schedule a consultation at (610) 436-1410.

 

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Why You Shouldn’t Drive If Your Driver’s License is Suspended as a Result of a DUI or DUI Related Offense in Pennsylvania.

Police Arrest

            Most times, when someone is admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, or pleads guilty to Driving Under the Influence (DUI), he or she faces a mandatory driver’s license suspension. The range of suspension is based on many factors, including criminal record, blood alcohol level (BAC), and more.  Even without a valid license, some people take the risk of driving while their license is suspended. While this may seem like an innocent act, the consequences of driving under suspension for a DUI, are severe.

            This type of traffic offense is often referred to as a 1543(b) – Driving While Operating Privilege is Suspended or Revoked citation, because that is the Section it can be found in under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. The legislative purpose behind Section 1543(b) is general deterrence: if you are caught driving a vehicle while your license is suspended for ARD or DUI, you must face consequences, including a mandatory jail sentence. Otherwise, the judicial system would have no check in place to monitor suspended drivers. It is important to note that Section 1543(b) not only applies to ARD and DUI suspensions, but any DUI-related suspensions.  Below are a few examples where DUI-related suspensions come into play.

Consequences of Driving During the ARD Driver’s License Suspension

            If you were admitted into the Chester County or Delaware County ARD program for a DUI, your driver’s license was likely suspended for 30, 60 or 90 days depending upon your BAC. You cannot drive until PennDOT physically sends your driver’s license back to you. If you are caught driving a vehicle before your driving privileges are restored, you will face a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail.  If you were caught driving with a BAC of .02% or more, you will face a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail. In addition, you will likely be removed from the ARD program and prosecuted on the original DUI offense.  If convicted of DUI, you will likely face an additional license suspension.

Failure to Restore Your Driving Privileges After a DUI Driver’s License Suspension

            If your Pennsylvania driver’s license is suspended as a result of a DUI, you cannot drive a vehicle until you have completed the steps to restore your driving privileges. This includes paying a restoration fee and waiting for PennDOT to process your restoration. Consider the following example of failure to restore your driver’s license after a DUI conviction:

            Maria pleads guilty to DUI (High Tier). She serves 48 hours in jail and her license is suspended for 1 year.  However, after serving the 1 year suspension, she mistakenly assumes her license is automatically restored, and begins driving again. Almost 2 years after she pled guilty to DUI, she is stopped for speeding and given a 1543(b) citation.

Day                            Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                  DUI                             1 year                                                  48 hours

720                           1543(b)                       1 year                                                 60 days

            Maria may have thought she was in the clear to drive, but this is not the case. Even though she served the 1 year license suspension, her license was still suspended because she never made the effort to restore her driving privileges. Thus, she remained indefinitely suspended – DUI related. If she is found guilty of the 1543(b) citation, she will have to serve at least 60 days in jail, and her license will be suspended for an additional 1 year. She could still be cited for a 1543(b) citation until she makes the effort to actually restore her license.

Driver’s License Suspension Based Upon Refusal to Submit to Blood/Breath Test

            When you drive on the roads of Pennsylvania, you are agreeing to “implied consent” – meaning that if you are investigated for DUI, you agree to provide a chemical sample of your blood, breath or urine. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for at least one year, even if you are not convicted of the DUI. Consider the following example of how a DUI refusal can escalate:

            Ron is arrested for DUI, but refuses to provide a chemical sample. He pleads guilty to DUI and his license is suspended for 1 year. Because he refused, his license is suspended for an additional 1 year. He mistakenly thinks both suspensions run concurrently. After serving over one year of a suspended license, he is caught drunk driving. He is arrested for another DUI (BAC is .17%) and he is cited for 1543(b), because he was driving on a DUI-related suspended license. He pleads guilty to a second offense DUI (Highest Tier) and 1543(b) – Driving on a Suspended License DUI Related.

Day                             Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                  DUI                               1 year                                                   72 hours

1                                  Refusal                        1 year

724                            DUI – Highest          18 months                                        90 days

724                            1543(b)                         1 year                                               90 days

            Ron’s situation went from worse to unthinkable. His license was still suspended at the time of his second DUI arrest because he refused to provide a chemical sample. As a second offense with a BAC of .17%, he is sentenced to an 18 months license suspension and 90 days in jail. However, that’s not all. Because his license was suspended due to a DUI related offense (refusal), and his BAC was more than .02%, he faces an additional 1 year license suspension and an additional minimum of 90 days in jail. In total, he will serve 4 ½ years of a suspended license and over half a year of incarceration.

Out of State DUI Convictions and 1543(b) Citations

            When you are cited for a 1543(b) citation, you are not arrested and immediately taken to jail. As a result, some people consider these traffic offenses as minor and unimportant. All 1543(b) citations carry some jail time and license suspension, and these penalties increase if caught driving with more than .02% of a blood alcohol level. Consider the following situation where 1543(b) citations were not taken seriously:

            Eric was busted for DUI in Delaware County, PA and pled guilty. His BAC was so low that his license was not suspended. Later, he is convicted of DUI in Townsend, Maryland. As a result, PennDOT suspends his PA license for one year. A few weeks later, he is caught driving with a BAC of .03%. Although he was not arrested, he was cited for 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i). A few months after that, despite being careful during happy hour, Eric is caught driving again, with a BAC of .021%, and cited for a second offense 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i). He pleads guilty to both citations.

Day                             Offense                       License Suspension                 Minimum Jail Time

1                                   DUI

365                              DUI – MD                   1 year

390                              1543(b)                        1 year                                                  90 days

450                              1543(b) – 2nd            1 year                                                 6 months

            Without knowing the consequences, Eric pled guilty to an out of state DUI. This is also considered a DUI-related offense under Pennsylvania law, so PennDOT suspended his PA license. When he was caught driving with a BAC of .02%, he was cited under the most severe provisions of Section 1543(b), and both of the punishments increased. His first 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i) conviction carried a minimum of 90 days in jail and an additional one year license suspension. His second 1543(b)(1)(1.1.)(i) conviction was a misdemeanor and carried at least 6 months in jail and an additional one year license suspension. Within a span of two years, he will serve 9 months in jail.

Contact an Attorney Today

            Each of the above scenarios has different consequences, but the message is the same: driving on a suspended license – DUI related is a serious offense that will put you in jail and suspend your license for a long time. If you are cited for a 1543(b) traffic offense, it is very important to call an attorney. Considering the specific facts of your case, there may be valid defenses to the charges, or possibilities to limit the amount of jail time involved. The attorneys at Skinner Law Firm have dealt with a variety of scenarios that are punishable under Section 1543(b), including DUI, ARD, refusal and other DUI-related offenses. Call us today to discuss your options.

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What Happens after a First DUI in Delaware County, PA?

Traffic Stop

The vast majority of DUI cases in Delaware County, PA, involve a person who has no prior charges for DUI. In fact, in many of these cases, the person has no criminal record of any kind. A person arrested for a first offense DUI is unlikely to be arrested for another crime in the future. For this reasons, the Pennsylvania legislature has created the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.

ARD is a pre-trial divisionary program that allows the record to be dismissed and expunged at the end of the case. Each county has its own eligibility requirements for ARD in DUI cases. In Delaware County, PA, eligibility is determined on a case by case basis by the district attorney’s office. During the screening process, certain aggravating circumstances might make a person automatically ineligible for ARD including:

  1. a prior conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense;
  2. a prior ARD disposition within the past ten years;
  3. the driver did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the DUI because it was suspended, revoked or cancelled;
  4. the current DUI involves serious bodily injury of any person other than the defendant (75 Pa. C.S.A. 3807 (a)(2)(ii)); or
  5. a passenger under the age of 14 years old was in the vehicle at the time of the DUI (75 Pa. C.S.A. 3807 (a)(2)(iii)).

What Happens in the DUI-ARD Program?

To enter the DUI ARD Program in Delaware County, PA, the applicant must agree to complete certain requirements within a certain timeline. The participants are supervised under terms very similar to probation. The maximum period of supervision is two years, although in most cases it can be completed much faster.

To be accepted into the program, the defendant must submit to a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation. In some cases, treatment or counseling is recommended. If counseling or treatment is recommended then it must be successfully completed.

For DUI cases involving a refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, the arresting officer must send the “refusal form” to PennDOT and the District Attorney’s Office prior to the ARD hearing. To be eligible for the ARD Program, the applicant must apply for the program 14 days before the formal arraignment. The date of the formal arraignment will be set by the magistrate judge at the time of the preliminary hearing. [Click here to read more about the preliminary hearing in a DUI case in Delaware County, PA].

After the ARD program is completed successfully, the participant can petition the court to have the DUI charge dismissed and the case expunged. On the other hand, if the participant does not successfully complete the program then the person is removed from the program and put on a trial calendar.

If you were arrested for a first offense DUI in Delaware County, PA, you might have the option of entering the ARD program. Call Attorney Michael Skinner to learn more about how an attorney can help you get accepted into the ARD program and help you complete it as quickly as possible so that the record can be expunged.

If you are not eligible for ARD because of an aggravating factor or because of your prior record, then Michael Skinner can help you fight the charges in court.

Documents Required for the ARD Program in Delaware County, PA

Talk with an attorney at the Skinner Law Firm about applying for the ARD program in Delaware County. If you decide to enter the program, your attorney will submit several different documents to the Court Administrator at the courthouse located Media, PA. Those documents include:

  1. The Entry of Appearance by the attorney who will represent you during the application process;
  2. A form that Waives the Arraignment;
  3. The ARD Application;
  4. The ARD Rule 600 Waiver Form.

Completing the ARD Program

In most cases, when you enter the ARD program in Media, PA, you will be required to follow several terms and conditions before you can successfully complete the program. The prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office in Delaware County specifically reserve the right to modify the standard terms depending on the fact of the case.

Participants in the program are generally classified into three tiers:

  • Tier I applies to a BAC between 0.08%  and 0.99% and requires 12 months of probation and 16 hours community service;
  • Tier II requires 12 months of probation and 32 hours of community service and applies to:
    • a BAC between 0.10%  and 0.159%,
    • to young people under 21 years old; and
    • to cases involving an accident;
  • Tier III requires 12 months of probation and 64 hours of community service and applies to:
    • any BAC over 0.16%;
    • a case involving drugs or controlled substances; or
    • any refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.

In certain types of cases, you might be able to have the community service hours reduced if you complete certain requirements within 60 days of the waiver of your preliminary hearing. Those conditions include:

  • you waive the preliminary hearing;
  • you submit to a CRN Evaluation;
  • you complete the reduced number of community service hours;
  • you complete the Safe Driving Course; and
  • you schedule a drug and alcohol evaluation if it is required.

If you complete the above terms within the time allowed then you may only have to complete half of the community service hours that are otherwise required.

Entering the ARD program in Delaware County will cost approximately $1250. Unless your attorney has made prior arrangements with the District Attorney’s Office, the payment must be made with cash, check, money order, or Visa on the day of your ARD hearing. You must also pay a supervision fee of $35 per monthly or at the court appearance.

Additional Resources

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition ARD Unit in Delaware County
 – Visit the website of the Office of the District Attorney for Delaware County, John J. Whelan, to learn more about the ARD Unit. Find contact information for the Chief and Supervisor of the ARD Unit including their phone number and email address.

Frequently Asked Questions About ARD and DUI in Delaware County – Visit the website for the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County, PA, to find frequently asked questions from Adult Probation and Parole. Find information about having the A.R.D. expunged, obtaining the expungement packet for the ARD case, what happens after a person is removed from the A.R.D. program, and how to schedule the Alcohol Safe Driving Classes or Track 1 Out-Patient DUI Classes.

Department of Diagnostic Services in Delaware County – Find contact information and office hours for Diagnostic Services in the Court House and Government Center Complex located at 201 West Front Street in Media, PA 19063. Diagnostic Services is responsible for completing all Court-ordered evaluations both from the Magisterial District Justice System, as well as the Court of Common Pleas within the Thirty-Second Judicial District. Those services include the Court Reporting Network (C.R.N.) Evaluation which is required in every DUI offense. Also find a list of approved DUI treatment providers located in and around Delaware County including in Drexel Hill, Chester, Media, Upper Darby, Brookhaven, Lima, Sharon Hill, Newton Square, PA.

Lawyer for a First DUI in Delaware County, PA

The ARD program applies to a variety of offenses including DUI cases. Recent statistics in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania show that approximately 90% of the men and women in the ARD program were arrested for DUI. The purpose of the pre-trial program is to help the participant understand the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol so the offense is not repeated. The ARD also allows for a faster resolution in these cases which saves money and allows the criminal justice system to focus on more serious cases.

After an arrest for a first offense of driving under the influence in Delaware County, PA, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. Michael Skinner is focused on fighting DUI cases involving either a high BAC after a breath or blood test, or a case involving a refusal to submit to test. Talk with an attorney for first DUI in Delaware County, PA.

Call Michael Skinner to learn more about the benefits of entering the ARD program so that your record can be expunged. Call 610-565-3320 today to discuss your case.

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