The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Drugged Driving Arrests On the Rise in Pennsylvania

If you are a regular reader on this blog (and who isn't) you'll notice that we've talked a lot recently about drugged driving, also known as DUID. We've warned about the severe consequences and questionable laws. Now, it seems, the police have caught on. Drugged driving arrests are at an all time high, and now make up as many arrests as drunk driving in many Pennsylvania counties, reports WGAL News.

Drugged driving is exactly what it sounds like; driving while impaired by the use of some drug. This includes prescription and illegal drugs. We've covered the draconian marijuana laws, where you can be convicted of DUID for driving with days-old metabolites of the drug in your system. However, it seems statistically that DUIDs are becoming more and more about legal prescription drugs.

Wait, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of something that was prescribed to you? Glad you asked, because the answer is: Yes, yes you can.

DUID, or DWI, or drugged driving (the offense has more names than the Artist Formerly Known As Prince) is driving while impaired. It does not matter whether the impairment comes from a legal or illegal substance. Alcohol is perfectly legal to drink, for those over 21. It still can get you arrested if you drink and drive.

It seems the only questionable part of drugged driving arrests is the subjective nature of the offense. Traditional alcoholic DUIs rely on a bit of subjective judgment when it comes to probable cause. If officers detect blood-shot and watery eyes, slurred speech, and other behavioral tics that indicate that someone is drunk, they have the probable cause necessary to request field sobriety tests and have the driver take a breath or blood test to measure their blood alcohol content.

For drugged driving, it becomes even more of a subjective issue. There is no scientific roadside test, yet, for drug use. There is currently one being developed for marijuana and THC. Other than that, the entire arrest process becomes subjective, up to the judgment of the officer, until the person is already in custody and submitting to a blood test.

With the sheer variety of drugs that someone could be abusing, that makes for a lot of subjectiveness based on a lot of different criteria, which makes the entire process even less certain and subject to mistake or abuse.

It also makes the importance of a good lawyer even more vital to the defense of your case.

Related Resources:

  • Pennsylvania DUI Laws (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
  • An Alternative Solution to Ignition Interlock: Everyone Has One (FindLaw’s Philadelphia DUI Blog)
  • Deer Stops DUI; Pothead Almost Hits Cop (FindLaw’s Philadelphia DUI Blog)