DUI Drug Convictions

Under the way the current law is written, you do not have to actually be intoxicated at the time you are driving to be convicted of a drug-related DUI.   

Title 75, Section 3802(d) of the Vehicle Code states that an individual may not drive, operate, or be in physical control of the movement of a vehicle when either:

1)    there is any amount of Schedule I, Schedule II, or Schedule III controlled substance in his/her blood, or any metabolite of those substances in his/her blood. These substances are defined in the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

Or

2)    the individual is under the influence of a drug(s), or under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol,  to the degree which it impairs the ability to safely drive, operate or be in physical control of the movement of a vehicle.

Or

3)    the individual is under the influence of a solvent or noxious substance in violation of Title 18, Section 7303.

Controlled substances are defined under the Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. § 780-104).  Generally speaking, this act covers a very broad category of drugs from traditional prescription or non-prescription pain killers and sleeping medications to standard illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

Under that first and last section (75 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 3802(d)(1) and (d)(4)), the Commonwealth is not actually required to prove that you are incapable of safe driving. Rather, the Commonwealth must only show that you have drugs in your blood system.  Technically, you could use a controlled substance on Monday and then be pulled over on Wednesday and subsequently convicted of a DUI because even though you are not currently under the influence there may still be amounts of the drug in your system.

Even though the statute states ‘any amount’, for the results of a blood test to be admissible in court, the amount of drugs in your system must reach the minimum level detailed in the chart below.  Keep in mind this chart is not all-inclusive and only includes the levels for the most common substances.

To be convicted under the second section (75 Pa.C.S.A. §§3802(d)(2) and (d)(3)), the Commonwealth is not required to prove the amount of drugs you have in your system.  All they must show is that you have drugs and/or alcohol in your blood, which would render you incapable of safe driving.  Again, for the blood test to be admissible in court, the amount of drugs in your system must reach the minimum levels detailed in the chart below.  A determination of whether you are incapable of safe driving is done by looking at the totality of the circumstances.  The court will consider all circumstances to determine if you are capable of safe driving, such as if you were swerving out of your lane, if you had bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, or if you fail the field sobriety test.

Class

Substance

Schedule

Minimum Quantitation Limits (nanograms/milliliter)

Amphetamines
AmphetamineII5
MethamphetamineII5
Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA, Ectasy)I50
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)I50
Analgesics
MethadoneII20
Cannabinoids
Delta-9-THC (THC)*I2
11-Hydroxy-Delta-9-THC (THC-OH)I5
11-Nor-9-Carboxy-Delta-9-THC (THC-COOH)I5
Cocaine
CocaineII5
BenzoylecgonineII5
Hallucinogens
PhencyclidineII1
Opiates
CodeineII5
HydrocodoneII5
HydromorphoneII2.5
6-MonoacetylmorphineII2.5
MorphineII5
OxycodoneII5
Sedatives/Hypnotics
AmobarbitalII40
PentobarbitalII40
SecobarbitalII40

* Chart provided by the Pennsylvania Bulletin, Dated January 7, 2012.  http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol42/42-1/22.html