Pennsylvania's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s drugged driving law is located at Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 75-3802. The law states that an individual “may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle under any of the following circumstances:

  • There is in the individual's blood any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, or Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substance which has not been medically prescribed for the individual; or metabolite of such substances; or
  • The individual is under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual's ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.”

 Pennsylvania has what is known as a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition against drugged driving. That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that there are detectable amounts of any controlled substance (even if it’s just a trace) in the driver's body while the driver is in control of the vehicle. Actual evidence of impaired driving may be used to demonstrate the driver was under the influence but is not essential as long as the police officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is on something while behind the wheel. Even if a drug is not categorized as a controlled substance, the use of that substance can still subject the driver to arrest if the driver’s use of the drug impairs driving ability in Pennsylvania.

What drugs are prohibited?

Pennsylvania’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of controlled substances and drugs. A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Pennsylvania?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Pennsylvania will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Pennsylvania’s DUI laws.

Do Pennsylvania drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood and urine testing if probable cause exists. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver in criminal cases.

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