Driving while drugged in Pennsylvania is not worth the potential risks. You need to make smart choices to avoid impaired driving, which includes not getting behind the wheel after using drugs or alcohol. You also need to make certain you protect your rights if you are charged with an impaired driving offense, as drugged driving is taken very seriously under Pennsylvania law.
Chapter 38 of the Pennsylvania Code sets forth the legal definition of driving under the influence or driving while impaired. In particular, section 3802 makes it a crime to be in control of a vehicle while under the influence of any controlled substance.
It is illegal to be under the influence of any Schedule I controlled substance; or to be under the influence of any Scheduled II or Schedule III controlled substance that you don't have a prescription for. The severity of penalties for violating this law will vary depending upon whether you have any prior offenses or not.
Legal consequences are just one potential worry associated with drugged driving. There is also the chance of becoming involved in an auto accident and hurting yourself, hurting others, or even causing a death. According to USA Today, regulators are concerned about a rising number of deaths which involve motorists who test positive for drugs. While 12.4 percent of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for drugs in 2007, 15.4 percent tested positive for drugs after fatal accidents in 2013 and 2014. This has prompted National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to raise the alert that drugged driving is having an impact on the number of fatal car accidents.
When you cause a crash while under the influence, the criminal charges you face are going to go well beyond just a DUI charge. You can face serious felony charges for causing injury or death A civil lawsuit against you by victims of the accident is also likely to occur.
In light of the serious legal consequences and the rising risks of drugged driving, you should make certain you do not put yourself at risk of an accident or an arrest. This means avoiding drugged driving as well as drunk driving. While there is a strong stigma against drunk driving due to decades of advocacy among safety groups, many people do not treat drugged driving as seriously as drunk driving. Unfortunately, the legal consequences of using drugs before getting behind the wheel can be just as grave as the legal consequences of being arrested for being drunk while driving.
With drunk driving, you are allowed to have a drink or even two before you are breaking the law, since you are not charged with a criminal offense until your blood alcohol concentration reaches .08 (unless you are under 21 and you face consequences under zero tolerance laws). There is no grace period for drugged driving and you can be charged for any drugs in your system. Make sure you don't put yourself at risk of consequences by driving after consuming narcotics.