DUI Versus DUI-Drugs In Pennsylvania

Women taking pills inside her car while driving

When you are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you face stiff penalties. Even if the DUI is your first, you could be facing jail time, fines and court costs. While it’s true that many judges will take it a bit easier on someone without a criminal history, being arrested for DUI should not be taken lightly.

Driving under the influence, unlike what many people believe, does not strictly pertain to alcohol. A person can be charged with DUI if a law enforcement officer believes that the person is under the influence of any substance that has impaired the person’s ability to drive safely. That means that a person can be arrested for DUI if the office believes the person is under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.

When the operator of a vehicle is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, or DUI-D, they are facing very serious consequences. DUI-D cases are under the umbrella of driving under the influence, but they have penalties all their own. Penalties for DUI-D are more severe than those for a typical driving under the influence charge. Here’s what every driver needs to know.

Per Se Law

DUI-D is a “per se” law. That means that if you have any amount of a specific drug in your system, you can be charged with DUI-D and face consequences found under Pennsylvania’s highest tier of impairment. The drugs in your system may be illegal narcotics or prescription medication. A person doesn’t necessarily have to be “high” to receive a DUI-D charge.

Penalties for DUI-D

The following list is the possible penalties a driver faces if they are convicted of DUI-D:

  • First Offense: Anywhere from 3 days to 6 months in jail. A year’s driver’s license suspension, and fines between $1,000 and $5,000.
  • Second Offense: Time in jail that could span from 90 days to 5 years. An 18-month license suspension, and fines between $1,500 and $10,000.
  • Third Offense: Between 1 and 5 years in jail, a license suspension lasting 18 months, and fines between $2,500 and $10,000.

Aside from the possible penalties a driver faces, once convicted of a DUI-D, the conviction becomes a part of the person’s permanent criminal record. This means that it can be difficult to find a job or even secure housing. It can also have an impact on insurance rates. Any person who has been charged with DUI-D should hire an experienced attorney.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, our experienced team of attorneys is here for you. We understand both local and state laws, and we know how to mount a strong defense on your behalf. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights. We are ready to put our experience to work for you.