Typically most people think of alcohol when they hear of the charge DUI. What they don't realize is that controlled substances and over the counter medication can both lead to a conviction for DUI as well.
In Pennsylvania the sentence for a DUI conviction is based partially on the rate of your blood alcohol content. The higher the content, the more lengthy the sentence. For alcohol the levels are .08-1.0, 1.0-1.6, and then 1.6 and above. For a first time conviction the punishment ranges from probation and a fine for a BAC of .08-1.0 to 72 hours of incarceration, a $5,000 fine and a license suspension for a BAC of 1.6 and above. If however your driving is impaired due to controlled substances or over the counter medication you will be placed automatically in the highest tier for sentencing purposes.
Pennsylvania follows a per se which means any drug on a specific list is an automatic DUI charge in the Highest Impairment Tier (a BAC of over .16%). If you are found with a drug on this list in your system you can be convicted the same as if you had marijuana, heroin, cocaine or any other illegal controlled substance in your system.
Over the counter medication can lead to a DUI conviction as well. Many over the counter medications contain warning labels on their packaging cautioning you that the medication causes drowsiness and warning that you should not drive or operate machinery while taking the medication. These drugs effect your ability to drive and alert you to this fact. If you are stopped for erratic driving and fail a field sobriety test due to the effects of these drugs a blood test will reveal the concentration level in your system. If this concentration is above the therapeutic range, you will be charged with DUI. Even if its not, if a police officer can form the opinion that you were under the influence of a drug, to such an extent that it rendered you incapable of safe driving, you will be charged even without a blood test. Sleep medication such as Ambien have led to convictions so it is important to not drive when taking any over the counter medication containing driving warnings.
Taking drugs or over the counter medication can lead to serious consequences. It is important to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney when charged with DUI due to drugs or controlled substances.