Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in Virginia. This article explains the penalties imposed for DUI violations, but other laws regarding marijuana possession may also apply to drivers and passengers. Also, while Virginia allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances, it is still a crime to drive after such use.
For information about how Virginia treats marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture, see Virginia Marijuana Laws.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, other drugs, or a combination of substances. When alcohol is involved, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent of the driver's blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence (if the level is less, the prosecutor can still point to the driver's actions to prove that he was under the influence).
When marijuana is involved, however, any amount of marijuana that was in the driver’s blood or urine while he was driving will establish that the driver was under the influence. (Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-266.)
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
Penalties vary according to whether the offense is a first of subsequent conviction, and the judge may order use of an ignition interlock device after the term of license suspension is over. Increased penalties will apply to offenses that occurred while a minor was in the vehicle.
- First conviction. Penalties include a $250 fine, and one year of driver’s license suspension.
- Second conviction (within five years). Penalties include a fine of at least $500, between one month and one year in jail, and three years of driver’s license suspension.
- Third conviction (within ten years). Penalties include a fine of at least $1,000, at least 90 days in jail, and indefinite license suspension (the defendant must petition the court to restore driving privileges).
- Fourth and subsequent convictions (within ten years). Penalties include a fine of at least $1,000, at least one year in jail, and indefinite license suspension (the defendant must petition the court to restore driving privileges).
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related driving offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.