Yes. The DUI law in Pennsylvania makes it a crime to drive while there is marijuana in your blood. The DUI statute does not differentiate “medical marijuana” from “marijuana. Recently, there have been several cases decided by our Superior Court that show there might be defenses to these charges if you were using medical marijuana and followed all of the medical marijuana regulations. However, currently, it is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle with marijuana in your system whether or not it is medically prescribed.
No. Pennsylvania law specifically says a person cannot be forced to take a chemical test. However, you can still be charged with a DUI even if you refused the blood test. The charges can be filed as either Tier I, II, or III depending on the specific circumstances of your case. For a DUI with no special circumstances, you will be charged under a Tier I. If there was an accident the charges will be under Tier II. If your DUI is for driving while having drugs in your system, the charges will be under Tier III.
The police can get a search warrant to draw your blood for testing. If they do, they still cannot force you to give a blood sample. However, if you refuse a blood test after the police get a search warrant you might be charged with obstruction of justice, in addition to a Tier III DUI. There is also a license suspension separate from any suspension you may receive from a DUI conviction just for the refusal to provide the chemical sample for testing.
No. Pennsylvania law specifically says a person cannot be forced to take a chemical test. However, if you refuse a breath test and are then charged for DUI those charges will be Tier III charges. This tier has the highest possible punishment for sentencing purposes if you are convicted. Breath tests do not have the same constitutional protections as blood tests do. If you refuse a breath test, you will face a license suspension because you refused the breath test. This is a separate license suspension from any license suspension you might receive from a DUI conviction.
In most circumstances you cannot fight the license suspension that results from a DUI conviction. However, there are rare circumstances in which you can challenge a license suspension. Those circumstances include when the Court sent the wrong paperwork to PennDOT or when PennDOT attempts to suspend your license when it should not have been suspended. In these rare situations you can challenge the license suspension through what is known as a License Suspension Appeal. This will allow you to challenge the suspension of your license that PennDOT is trying to impose.
House arrest or in-home detention and sentencing options which allow you to serve part of a jail sentence in your house rather than in a jail. The law has recently changed and “house arrest” is now part of a sentencing possibility known as Probation with Restrictive Conditions. One type of “restrictive conditions” is in-home detention. Regardless of the name, they all refer to the same thing, being able to serve all or part of your jail sentence in your own home. Not every county will agree to house arrest in a DUI case. The law allows you to be sentenced to in-home detention, but not every county has the resources to allow for this type of sentence. In addition, there are several restrictions on whether the county will allow you to serve your time at home on house arrest. Some of those are your residence, who you live with, your history with the criminal justice system, whether or not you live in county, whether or not your home county will allowed you into their program, and many more.
If the county does allow for in-home detention, how much time you spend in in-home detention is a complex question. Some counties will let you do all your jail time on house arrest. Some counties make you do more time on house arrest for the privilege of not going to jail. Some counties make you serve part of your time in jail and the rest of the time on house arrest. Which option would be available to you depends on your specific case and what county the offense occurred in.
The answer to that question depends on the grading of the DUI for which you were convicted.
If you are convicted of a DUI that is graded as an ungraded misdemeanor (M) or a misdemeanor of the second degree (M2), then yes you can own or possess a firearm.
If you are convicted of a DUI that is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree (M1) or a DUI graded as a felony of the third degree (F3), then no you would not be able to own or possess a firearm. In other words, it would be illegal for you to possess a gun owned by someone else in addition to personally owning a firearm.
If you received an ARD disposition for a DUI, then yes you can own or possess a firearm. Sometimes a condition of ARD is that you do not possess a firearm. In that case, you would not be able to possess your firearm until your ARD supervision was over.
You are legally allowed to represent yourself at any stage in the criminal justice system. Although you can represent yourself it is usually not a good idea. Unless you know the law and how the system works representing yourself can be extremely detrimental to the final resolution of your case. For instance, in DUI cases you need to know not only the law regarding DUI offenses and defenses, but you should also know how to challenge field sobriety tests and the chemical tests. In addition to this, you need to understand all of the possible alternative sentencing options you may qualify for so you can negotiate the best possible plea deal if you decide to plead guilty.
Hiring a competent and experienced legal team is worth the expense as it is the best way to protect yourself and make sure you get the best possible outcome for your circumstances.
Yes. In fact, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania individuals are almost always charged with multiple counts of DUI. There are multiple ways a DUI can be charged. The Commonwealth will charge a Defendant with everything they can at the beginning of the case rather than try to add it later. Even if someone is not charged with multiple DUIs initially, these extra DUI charges will almost certainly be added by the District Attorney office later in the process.
For example – if you are charged with an alcohol based offense, it is not uncommon to be charged with all the DUIs that relate to alcohol. That would mean all three tiers as well as an incapable of safe driving DUI charge, for a total of four charges. There could be even more possible DUI charges if there are controlled substances involved, if you are under 21, or if you were operating a commercial or school vehicle.
However, even if someone is charged and convicted with multiple offenses, these offenses combine for the purpose of sentencing. In other words, you can only be sentenced for one count of DUI for an incident regardless of the number of charges. The Commonwealth will always ask the Court to impose a sentence for the DUI offense that incurs the most severe punishment.