Pennsylvania DUI laws remain untouched after court fines cardholders for driving under the influence
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania handed down a decision in a case that will likely set precedent for similar cases relating to medical marijuana and driving under the influence. In a 17-page opinion handed down on May 5th in the case of Franklin Dabney, Judge Deborah A. Kunselman ruled that marijuana remains a Schedule I substance in terms of DUI law.
A Schedule I substance is defined as a substance that “holds no current medical use and poses a high potential for abuse.” Pennsylvania is one of the many states across the country that have implemented a medical marijuana program, and Dabney is a medical card owner. Therefore, his legal team attempted to argue that marijuana cannot be considered a Schedule I substance because the state recognizes its medical benefits.
The prosecution took a more practical approach, noting that cannabis is still labeled as a Schedule I substance under federal law, therefore being recognized as such under state law. A lengthier version of this argument ultimately prevailed, and Dabney was sentenced to six months probation, ten days on house arrest, and received almost $1,115 in fines.
Pennsylvania DUI law automatically charges drivers with the highest level of intoxication when a blood test reveals the suspect was driving under the influence of any Schedule I substances. Drivers with a BAC of between .08% and .099% are charged with “General Impairment.” Drivers are not charged with the highest level of intoxication unless their BAC is more than double the legal limit. Marijuana and other substances are automatically charged with the highest tier DUI.
The case of Dabney sets precedent in Pennsylvania. Nothing has changed in regard to the state’s outdated DUI laws, and the Superior Court isn’t willing to legislate from the bench on this issue. While evidence of marijuana in your system does not equate to evidence of impairment, the federal government’s Draconian cannabis laws leave DUI laws across the country in limbo.