Can I Receive a DUI for Prescription Drug Use?

October 17, 2019

Most people know they can get a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or illegal drugs. However, you can also receive a DUI for driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Drivers may be convicted for DUI of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or more, regardless of whether they are drunk. However, in some states, those who drive after using drugs may only be convicted for a prescription medication DUI based on impairment. Therefore, drivers in those states may avoid conviction if their driving ability was not affected by the prescription drugs.

Prescription Drug DUI in Pennsylvania

However, Pennsylvania follows the per se standard when it comes to prescribed medications. Therefore, while it is possible to convict individuals for driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D) on the basis that the drug influenced their ability to drive safely, they may also be convicted simply on the basis that they had the controlled substance in their blood.

Under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, drivers may not operate vehicles under any of the following circumstances:

  • If the individual had any amount of a Schedule I, II, or II controlled substance, as defined in the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (the Act), in their blood
  • If the individual’s blood contained a metabolite of a Schedule I, II, or III drug
  • If the individual was under the influence of drugs or solvents/noxious substances to a degree that their ability to drive safely, operate, or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle was impaired

Penalties for a DUI of a Controlled Substance Conviction

Those who are charged with a DUI of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania face serious consequences that include imprisonment and fines. First time offenders face a mandatory minimum term of six months of probation and a $300 fine; however, the penalties will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Certain aggravating factors, such as refusing to submit to drug or alcohol testing or driving under the influence with a minor in the car, will result in increased penalties of up to two years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.

Defenses for a DUI-D

There are various defenses one can assert when facing a DUI-D charge in Pennsylvania. Police must have reasonable suspicion to pull drivers over and probable cause to arrest them. They must also follow certain procedures when it comes to testing. It is advisable for those facing a DUI for prescription drugs to contact a local attorney who can explain their legal options and ensure that their rights are protected.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Defend Clients Facing Prescription Drug DUI Charges

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania, contact a West Chester criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. For a free consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at 610-431-7900.

Heather Mattes Map