Q: I am getting charged with a DUI for a Schedule 1 controlled substance (marijuana). I was parked because I was lost and needed to use my GPS. A cop knocked on my window. My passenger had weed on her body, and he picked up the smell. I did not want to rat my friend out, so when the cop asked when I had last smoked marijuana, I answered truthfully and told him it was several hours before I started operating. He made me get out of the car, asked my name. I told him and offered him my license which was in my car. He refused to let me back in my car to retrieve it. He then conducted a field sobriety test, and failed me for my left eye not crossing in when he moved the pen towards my nose (after taking my glasses off). I was then arrested and taken for blood where I had residual THC. (Belle Vernon, PA)
A: THC forensically found in your blood within 2 hours of driving a car is enough to meet the requirements of the DUI statute. While it seems unfair that you may have ingested marijuana two, three or four weeks prior to the blood test, and the metabolites have remained in your system, it is currently the law. In Allegheny, the laboratory sometimes tests for nanograms and if the nanograms detected are so ridiculously low, your attorney may, may, be able to convince the DA not to prosecute. You could always have your attorney file a motion to have the blood independently tested by another lab if that lab can distinguish nanograms and your results are so small that a jury may not convict you. Secondly, your statement will hurt you. If it was blurted out by you, and not a result of custodial interrogation without Miranda warnings, then you are stuck with it and it can and will be used against you as no one would normally make such an incriminating statement if not true. Lastly, lack of probable cause to stop a vehicle, or ask a citizen to step out of the vehicle, or seize the person’s blood, is always a challenge to prove, but a wonderful defense if you the right facts. I would have an attorney not only look at the blood tests but especially the facts to determine if there is a lack of probable cause to stop your vehicle and get you out of the car. Just sitting on the side of the road generally may not be sufficient probable cause to stop you. However, stopped on the berm of a busy road at 3 am, may be sufficient for the police to inquire as to your situation. There was a great case I used in the past on this probable cause issue, Commonwealth v. Dewitt (1992) , but I would need to research to see if it is still valid law. The other thing I would mention is that if this is your first offense, you may be eligible for ARD, which if you complete the program there will only be a 60 day license suspension, but more importantly, no jail time and no conviction on your record.