Marijuana is regarded by many as being relatively safe when used responsibly. Many enjoy using marijuana recreationally, but many more have medical needs and carry medical marijuana cards that permit them to purchase and use the substance. As many states nationwide are legalizing marijuana, Pennsylvania remains steadfast in prohibiting the substance in almost any circumstance.
One big complication for medical marijuana consumers is being pulled over with trace amounts of the substance in their system. Since Pennsylvania has a strict no-tolerance policy regarding any amount of marijuana in a driver’s system, they can be charged with a DUI even though their mental state is not altered. If you are charged with a marijuana-related DUI but have a medical marijuana card, an attorney can help you defend yourself. A prominent issue in many DUI cases is how law enforcement obtained a blood draw to test for drugs. The chemical testing results might be inadmissible in court if the blood draw was taken without your consent.
What Happens if You Are Pulled Over with Marijuana in Your System in Pennsylvania?
If you are pulled over in Pennsylvania with marijuana in your system, you risk being charged with a DUI. These charges are not solely reserved for alcohol-related offenses but also cover drivers driving while under the influence of controlled substances.
In many cases, the police do not initially stop someone because they suspect they are under the influence of marijuana. Those with trace amounts in their system might be unimpaired, and their driving might be normal and not indicate intoxication. Instead, there is often another reason for the stop, like a typical traffic violation or a broken taillight. The police might become suspicious if they notice certain paraphernalia related to medical marijuana in the vehicle.
The police may arrest a driver they suspect has recently consumed marijuana, even for medical reasons. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the nature of your charges, you might face anything from fines and a license suspension to potential incarceration. As such, it is a good idea to contact a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer about your case as quickly as possible.
How Pennsylvania Cannabis Laws Affect Drivers with Medical Marijuana Cards
Pennsylvania is one of several states that impose a zero-tolerance policy regarding controlled substances and driving. Even if a driver is relatively unimpaired, but trace amounts of controlled substances like marijuana are detected in their system, they may be charged with a DUI.
No exception is mentioned by law that exempts drivers with medical marijuana cards from DUIs. If you use marijuana for medical purposes, you must treat it like any other prescription medicine that might make you unfit to drive. Even over-the-counter flu medicine can make people drowsy and unfit to drive. If you are using marijuana to treat a medical condition, you should avoid driving until the effects have worn off.
The thing about marijuana is that it tends to affect different people in different ways. Some people are very sensitive and may be unfit to drive even after consuming a small amount of marijuana. Medical marijuana users who need the substance to cope with a particular medical condition tend to consume more of it more often and, therefore, have higher tolerances.
As such, many medical marijuana users can have trace amounts of the substance in their system and be perfectly fine to drive. They might not even realize they have trace amounts of marijuana in their system and might feel completely sober when they are stopped by law enforcement. The police do not care. The zero-tolerance policy on marijuana and driving is ironclad, even if the driver is more or less sober.
How to Defend Yourself Against DUI Charges in Pennsylvania Even Though You Have a Medical Marijuana Card
There are some key questions you should talk about with your lawyer. How did the police measure the amount of marijuana in your system? Was there a Fourth Amendment violation? Determining whether the police were even allowed to test you for marijuana is an excellent first step in mounting an effective legal defense.
Controlled substances cannot be measured by breath test devices, which is common in DUI cases. Instead, police officers need a blood draw from the driver to submit for chemical testing.
When a person is arrested for a supposed DUI in Pennsylvania, they do not have the right to refuse to submit to chemical testing, including breath tests and blood draws. However, if a driver does refuse, the police are not permitted to force them to submit to testing. Instead, the driver may face a civil penalty for refusing testing and possibly lose their license.
If you refused to allow the police to take a blood sample from you for testing, but they made you submit anyway, an attorney can help you suppress the blood test results. Evidence may be suppressed and excluded from trial because it was illegally seized and tainted. Such evidence may not be presented in court or considered by the jury.