Can You Get a DUI for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
September 6, 2022

While the overwhelming majority of driving under the influence (DUI) charges deal with alcohol, any substance that impairs your ability to safely operate your vehicle can lead to a DUI charge. Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Pennsylvania, but driving under the influence of the drug (regardless of the reason you had it) is wholly illegal. Thus, under Pennsylvania law, you can be charged with a DUI for medical marijuana.

If you find yourself in this situation, turn to the experienced DUI attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford, P.C. With over 60 years of combined experience, they have the resources and knowledge to guide you through the complexities of a DUI charge.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Law and DUIs

In Pennsylvania, those who have a valid medical card are allowed to possess a 30 day supply of medical marijuana and various related products, including oils, creams, gels, liquids, and ointments. The holding and proof of the valid medical card is critical, because non-medical use is illegal and subject to Pennsylvania’s criminal laws regarding possession.

Despite the legal use of medical marijuana, any amount of THC found to be in your system while driving is considered a crime in Pennsylvania. Obviously, this presents a gray area, as certain people have a higher tolerance for THC than others, thus may not be as impaired. Also, testing for THC is much more difficult than testing blood alcohol content (BAC).
Still, the procedure and punishments for a medical marijuana DUI is the same as a DUI for alcohol. 

First Offense

Penalties for a first time DUI are:

  • Misdemeanor
  • Between 72 hours to 6 months of jail time
  • Fines between $1,000 to $5,000
  • Highway safety school
  • License suspension of at least 12 months
  • Community service

Charges can vary greatly due to other impacts a DUI might have, such as endangering others.

Second Offense

After a second DUI, expect the following penalties: 

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • Between 90 days and 6 months of jail time
  • Minimum $1,500 fine
  • Highway safety school
  • License suspension of at least 18 months
  • Community service

Charges escalate for subsequent DUIs, as those with second offenses are viewed as more likely to commit the crime again.

Third and Subsequent Offense

A third or subsequent DUI will get you the following penalties: 

  • Third-degree Felony
  • At least one year of jail time
  • Minimum $2,500 fine
  • License suspension of at least 18 months
  • Community service

In addition to DUI charges for marijuana, you could also face drug possession charges. If you are found with less than 30 grams, a misdemeanor charge, it carries a punishment of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.  Above 30 grams carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

How to Defend Against a DUI for Medical Marijuana

Like any DUI arrest, an officer will begin by stopping the vehicle and looking for evidence of impairment, be it visual, odor, or through the driving conduct itself, such as weaving between the lines or running stop lights.  After the arrest, you will likely be made to submit to chemical testing to determine the amount of THC in your system. With that said, there are a few ways in which our experienced DUI defense attorneys can fight back on your behalf.

If you are privileged to use marijuana due to possessing a medical marijuana card, the oder of marijuana alone is an insufficient basis for an arresting officer to investigate you for DUI without other signs of impairment.  Because marijuana stays in your system long after intoxication, one approach is to challenge the officer’s asserted probable cause by calling into question whether one would be impaired at the time of the encounter.  However, DUIs remain a great challenge for those who have marijuana cards since the offense is complete if there is 1 nanogram of THC in a driver’s system at the time of driving. 

Skillful Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorneys Will Fight for You

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, our team of qualified, resourceful, and knowledgeable attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. will fight to protect your rights and provide you with the best possible defense. Pennsylvania medical marijuana users are entitled to strong advocacy, and our firm is here to provide it. Contact us today to receive a free consultation from one of our experienced attorneys. You can call (215) 822-7575 or fill out our contact form.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
September 6, 2022
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.