Virginia Marijuana DUI Lawyer
Virginia—unlike some of its neighbors, most notably Maryland and DC—still criminalizes all possession of marijuana. If an individual is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence and there is evidence to prove to a level of probable cause that marijuana may be responsible for a person’s impaired or intoxicated driving, that person may be charged with DUID or driving under the influence of drugs for the offense of driving after consuming marijuana. This DUID is the same code section as a typical DUI, 18.2 – 266, but it is one of the other subsections. Certainly since marijuana is an illegal drug in Virginia and since driving under the influence of any illegal drug is a DUI, a person can be charged with a DUI for being under the influence of marijuana. Evidence has to be presented to secure a conviction under this code section. It is important and highly beneficial to work with a Virginia marijuana DUI lawyer, who can help to discredit the prosecutions evidence.
Marijuana DUI Charges
If an individual is charged with a DUID and it relates to the consumption of marijuana, a person may be charged with two offenses in one. The first offense will be the possession of marijuana, especially if unsmoked or burnt marijuana residue is found in the vehicle. In Virginia, a person can be charged with possession of weed, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor, for any offense that is not a first offense. An individual is going to be charged with possession of marijuana, which is typically a misdemeanor offense, for any amounts of marijuana if some residue is left or seemingly a good weight of marijuana is left. That possession of marijuana can be one charge. In addition, if an individual is found to be under the influence while driving in violation of 18.2 – 266, a person may be charged with DUID or driving under the influence of drugs. This can be related to the marijuana offense. Simply driving while high could lead to two charges—both possession of the drug and driving under the influence of the drug.
The potential penalties for any Class 1 misdemeanor, of which driving under influence of drugs is one, are 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and certain mandatory penalties—which could be a 12-month loss of driving privileges and the completion of certain programs, like the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and potentially other local programs.
If an individual is charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana offense, it can vary depending on the number of prior offenses and the amount that a person possessed. There are two offenses a person can be charged with for marijuana DUI. The DUI charge carries the same punishment as if it was any other type of a DUI or any other drug, prescription drug, or alcohol.
Differences Between Marijuana and Alcohol DUI
Marijuana-based DUI cases are very different from alcohol-based cases, but the first large difference is that there is no presumption statute for marijuana consumption. There is no level of marijuana consumption that is per se or presumptively in violation. In Virginia, there is an inference that an individual is in violation of the DUI statute if they test for a BAC of .08 or above. There is no equivalent for marijuana.
Additionally, a DUI in Virginia due to pot typically has to be proven through a blood test. The blood test would give some sort of reading as to the concentration of the BAC or the active components in a person’s blood. A toxicologist will then be called in to opine as to what that means and evidence could flow from there. There will be different procedural defenses in the situation of any blood case or any drug case that won’t involve any presumptive level of intoxication. In addition, marijuana cases would be subject to a few other kinds of drug-specific offenses.
Elements of Prosecutorial Proof
The prosecution needs to prove all the elements of the DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt—whether it is for alcohol or for weed. Typically, in a marijuana DUI prosecution they are going to try to use evidence of bad driving behavior, driving behavior that is consistent with impairment, observations of the officer that are consistent with the impairment, and admissions of the accused. Admissions of the accused could include admitting to consuming marijuana recently, this information is used as evidence that there was indeed marijuana and that it impacted the behavior. Also used are observations of the officer, performance of field sobriety tests, and responses to questions that an officer asked. These can be potential evidence in a marijuana case and that will all go into what the prosecution wants to prove—the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Benefits of a Virginia Marijuana DUI Attorney
Because marijuana DUI will present a wide variety of legal issues and a variety of areas that are ripe for defense, it is important to contact an experienced pot DUI attorney in Virginia, who has handled marijuana cases in the past, as soon as possible.
An attorney will certainly add value to a person’s case and there will certainly be some unique defenses that they will come up with in every DUI or marijuana case and a person will want to explore those defenses at length. It is important to talk to an attorney who is comfortable handling these cases, who has handled them in the past, and who knows what types of evidence the prosecution is going to tend to rely on to secure convictions in this type of case.