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Drugged Driving in Pennsylvania

Driving under the influence of alcohol has been an issue in the headlines for decades. Countless laws have been passed that increase the penalties for a person convicted of DUI. Police officers are extensively trained to recognize the signs of someone who has been driving while impaired. Blood or breath tests can quickly show whether a person is over the .08 legal limit.

However, drugged driving is presenting major challenges to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. There are so many different drugs that a person may take, it is difficult to determine which drug is present in a person's system. Since each drug may cause different effects, no one "legal limit" can be put in place to broadly apply to motorists who may have used illegal or prescription drugs.

Law enforcement in Pennsylvania, like in several other states, uses drug recognition experts (DREs) to help crack down on drugged driving. DREs receive special training, which was created by The International Drug Evaluation and Classification Program.

DREs use a 12-step process when conducting an investigation into whether a motorist was impaired by drugs. The officer that initially made the traffic stop will be the one who determines if a DRE is necessary.

If called to investigate, a DRE will perform several tests on a suspected drugged driver. The officer will ask about what food or drugs a person has consumed. The DRE will examine the suspect's pupils to check for unusual movements.

DREs will also conduct other "field sobriety" type tests to see how an individual reacts to specific instructions. The officers will also look for any visible signs of drug use on the person's body, such as injection marks.

At the end of this process, the DRE will be the one who decides whether or not to order tests which would show the presence of drugs in a person's system. This leaves the determination for this test entirely to the discretion of the DRE, which could potentially cause problems.

A drugged driving conviction could carry extensive penalties, including the loss of a driver's license. Know what options are available to you before you plead guilty. This does not make everything simply disappear. The consequences of a conviction can be extremely long-lasting.

Source: Pennsylvania State Police "Drug Evaluation and Classification Program"

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Gregory R. Gifford
  • RGS&G Firm News

    "Gregory R. Gifford, a partner at the Lansdale law firm of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford, P.C., was elected Vice President of the Montgomery Bar Association on January 13, 2017. Mr. Gifford is a past Director of the Association and has also served as its Treasurer and Secretary"Read more...

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Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford has been a member of the local Penn Suburban Chamber of Commerce (previously known as North Penn Suburban Chamber of Commerce) for more than 25 years.

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