Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Virginia: What You Need to Know
Virginia has some of the country’s toughest laws on driving under the influence of alcohol. Likewise, Virginia also has tough laws punishing those who drive under the influence of drugs like cocaine, marijuana, or MDMA. Convictions for driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID, can result from illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drug use, making it critical that drivers understand the laws. Read on to learn about DUID convictions in Virginia, and contact a DUID defense lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest.
Arrests and convictions for DUID in Virginia
An officer may pull over a driver on suspicion of DUID after observing irregular driving, or while running a sobriety checkpoint. A driver can be convicted of a per se DUID when they are found to have above a certain quantity of an illegal drug in their system pursuant to a blood test. Under Virginia’s implied consent laws, any drivers on Virginia roads are considered to have consented to taking a breath or blood test after being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or for driving on a revoked license. Should drivers refuse to take this test, they could be convicted of the crime of refusing a blood test, which comes with its own harsh penalties.
If a driver is found to have the following drugs in their system, they will be assumed to have been intoxicated while driving:
- .1 milligrams of meth
- .1 milligrams of PCP
- .02 milligrams of cocaine
- .1 milligrams of MDMA
Unlike the laws governing DUIs for alcohol intoxication, there is not always a clear rule on how much of a drug must be present in a driver’s blood to result in a DUID conviction. For example, no hard-and-fast rule exists establishing how much of marijuana’s active ingredient THC must be present in a driver’s system to result in a DUID conviction, nor is there a measure for how much over-the-counter or prescription medication in a driver’s system is too much.
As a result, police officers rely on evidence such as witnessing unsafe driving behaviors before pulling a driver over, the smell of marijuana smoke on the driver’s clothing, visual cues such as bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils, and the driver’s performance in field sobriety tests. A skilled DUID defense attorney may be able to counter this subjective evidence, such as with expert testimony on the unreliability of field sobriety tests for proving drug intoxication or evidence of other physical conditions that could result in these effects.
Penalties for a DUID conviction
The penalties after a conviction of DUID can be severe, including:
- Up to 12 months of jail time for a misdemeanor conviction
- Up to five years in prison for a felony conviction
- Mandatory jail sentences for felony convictions
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license
- Completion of a substance abuse program
- Ignition interlock installation and accompanying costs
- Court costs and fines
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Virginia, get the legal help you need to fight these charges by contacting the knowledgeable and skilled DUID defense lawyers at the Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.