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"Bath Salts" as Basis for Driving Under the Influence Charges

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March 31

DUI arrest may be a first; case seen as legal challenge

By Edward Lewis, Staff Writer

Reviewed by Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader

WILKES-BARRE - The arrest of a Throop woman on evidence of driving under the influence of bath salts is believed to be the first in the region and possibly the state.

As the case against Michele Pace, 39, begins a slow process through the court system, a defense lawyer believes there is a good chance it may end sooner than later.

City police charged Pace as the driver of a Chevrolet that was pursued from the busy intersection of Kidder and Scott streets to George Avenue on Monday. Police alleged Pace was swerving in traffic and nearly struck a utility pole and other vehicles before being boxed in a driveway by a detective and another officer, according to charges filed.

Police said in the criminal complaint that Pace and a passenger, Donna Zilla, 40, of Dunmore, were under the influence of bath salts. Two children in the vehicle were not injured, police said.

Pace and Zilla "appeared highly euphoric, aggressive and agitated. They were unable to control simple body movements, and when answering questions, both were flailing and talking quickly," the complaint says.

Pace was charged with driving under the influence of bath salts.

Hakim said there is a section of the DUI statute that allows police to charge a driver if the driver is under the influence of a drug that impairs the ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Review by Attorney Pasqualini-

Chemical compounds mephedrone and MDPV (methyllenedioxypyrovalerone) are the main ingredients that make up bath salts, which mirror cocaine and methamphetamine. The compounds are not listed under the state's controlled substance act, which means anyone, including juveniles, can legally take the substance without fear of being arrested.

The State House of Representatives recently pushed through House Bill 365, which was unanimously approved earlier this month and adds MDPV to the list of controlled substances.  This would be necessary to prosecute Driving Under the Influence charges based upon the state definition.  Currently, MDPV is not an listed as a "controlled substance."  If you are charged with a DUI, you should contact experienced legal counselShaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC is ready to assist you at or toll free at 1-866-765-0706.  You may contact Attorney Pasqualini directly at [email protected]

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