Drug DUIs on the Rise in Pennsylvania

man holding hashish in the car.

Pennsylvania saw 53,000 DUI arrests in 2016. Half of those, according to AAA, involved drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Many of the cases of drugged driving involve prescription medications and not illegal narcotics. Drugged driving is on the rise in Pennsylvania, and law enforcement officials are being put through training to detect it.

Officers are being taught how to look for and notice signs of impairment. Alcohol impairment is one thing and, for most officers, easily recognizable. In addition, testing someone for alcohol use is fairly straightforward and quick. The same cannot be said for recognizing and testing for prescription medications or other drugs.

Drug Recognition Expert Coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Police, Cpl. Scott Davis, worries that drugged driving will continue to get worse as marijuana becomes a legal substance in more states. The Pennsylvania DUI Association agrees. They support the training that the law enforcement officers are taking on. There are currently 172 of these experts in the state, and they are called to assist when an officer believes that a driver may be under the influence of a medication or narcotic.

You Can Be Arrested for DUI with No Alcohol

Many hold to the mistaken belief that driving under the influence only pertains to alcohol. The truth of the matter is, you can be arrested for DUI if you are under the influence of any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely. This includes illegal drugs, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication and alcohol.

Currently, determining whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs is subjective. There is no accurate or reliable test that can determine if a person is driving under the influence of a drug. Tests on today’s market can only tell if a person has used narcotics recently, not when or how much. The same can be said for some prescription medications, but not all. Detecting over-the-counter medications can be difficult, if not impossible. In many cases, police must rely on a driver’s admittance to driving under the influence in order to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Being arrested for driving under the influence can have severe consequences on the accused. A conviction for the crime is worse. When a person is convicted of driving under the influence of any substance, they may find that it is difficult to maintain their employment, particularly if that employment hinges on the maintenance of a professional license. A person may also find that it is difficult to secure housing, depending on the severity of their charges.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Philadelphia, you need assistance immediately. Your reputation and your livelihood are at stake. Reach out to our experienced team of DUI attorneys and let us put our knowledge of the local court system to work for you. We are ready to mount a strong defense on your behalf. Call today to schedule your consultation and let us advise you of your legal options.