The legalization of marijuana, no matter the form, has created an unanticipated need to change other laws in many states. Pennsylvania is one of many states where some laws conflict with other established laws, as some forms of medical marijuana are now legal. According to select data from one Pennsylvania county, arrests for drunk driving appear to be decreasing, but arrests for DUIs related to drug use appear to be increasing.
Some speculate that DUI arrests related to drug use could result in continued increases if the laws are not changed. According to Pennsylvania law, any amount of THC in the blood can be considered to be illegal. The Pennsylvania Bulletin states that anything above one nanogram could result in a DUI arrest, although other states have set the standard to be greater than five nanograms for an arrest.
Some lawmakers understand that a small dose of medical marijuana — if it is used as prescribed — may not result in impaired driving. On the opposite spectrum, significant use of any form of marijuana can increase or result in the drug’s psychoactive side effects and can impair driving and judgement of users. As laws are evaluated, lawmakers will likely be analyzing how many of the other 28 states have already addressed the issue.
Because the laws do not match up, it is possible for individuals to be arrested for a DUI who may not have been truly impaired. As drunk driving laws are continually improved and altered as needs arise, lawmakers must do the same in light of some legal use of marijuana. Before laws are changed, individuals charged with a DUI could benefit from the advice of the right criminal defense attorney to advise and defend a case accordingly.
Source: abc27.com, “Pennsylvania State Police urge updating DUI laws after medical marijuana legalization“, Dawn White, Feb. 3, 2018