The layered penalties for drugged driving in Pennsylvania

Drunk Driving
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

Last month, a Pennsylvania woman rear-ended two vehicles in Westover. When they police arrived, they determined she was high on heroin. With her in the vehicle was her one-year-old son—who was sitting in the back seat without proper restraint. The woman was arrested, and her son was given to a family member.

Drugged driving is an increasing problem across Pennsylvania. You may be inclined to think that the penalties for drugged driving—like drunk driving—are straightforward. For impaired driving, you might expect to pay a fine or have your driver’s license suspended.

As the details of this case demonstrate, however, the penalties can be far more severe than that—since impaired driving is typically not the only chargeable offense in such scenarios. In this case, the defendant was charged with multiple offenses:

  • Felony: impaired driving with a child in the vehicle
  • Misdemeanor: driving while impaired by drugs
  • Misdemeanor: possession of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor: possession of a hypodermic instrument
  • Misdemeanor: endangering the welfare of children
  • Traffic violation: speeding
  • Traffic violation: tailgating
  • Traffic violation: improper use of child seat

Although the physical impact of the crash was minor—no one was suffered injuries as a result—the sum of these charges means the defendant could face years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and miss out on seeing her child growing up.

It’s important to understand the layers of penalties you can face if you’re charged with drugged driving. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to help build you a solid defense.