Many areas around the country have made significant changes regarding the legalization of marijuana. Over the last few years, various states have legalized recreational marijuana. Virginia has not legalized recreational marijuana, but the legislature did decide to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses. While this may not seem like a traffic violation issue, this is a good time to brush up on laws regarding operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
New laws that decriminalized marijuana possession offenses took effect on July 1, 2020. Under this new law, any activities involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will now be considered civil offenses, not criminal offenses, and punishable by a fine of $25. There will be no arrests for these offenses and no criminal records for those charged with the civil offense. Previously, such charges would have been classified as criminal misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail, the possible loss of driving privileges, and a permanent mark on somebody’s criminal record. In 2018 alone, police in Virginia made approximately 30,000 marijuana-related arrests.
However, the worry is that this may lead to some people being more relaxed about using marijuana and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is important to understand that drivers in Virginia can still be charged with DUI for operating their vehicles while under the influence of marijuana. Drivers can face these charges if law enforcement discovers any narcotic drug or intoxicant that impairs a driver’s ability to operate their motor vehicle safely.
This can cause significant problems for drivers, and can even lead to those being charged unfairly when they are not impaired by marijuana at all. That is because metabolites or other evidence of marijuana can be present in a person’s blood long after the effects of the drug have worn off. There is no standard for an amount of marijuana that needs to be present in a person’s system before an officer in Virginia can charge them with DUI. This can lead to subjective arrests and significant complications for those facing a DUI charge.
If you or somebody you care about has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact an attorney about your case as soon as possible. At Randall Page, P.C., our skilled team has extensive experience handling DUI cases involving marijuana. We will conduct an objective and independent investigation into the charges against you and worked to get them reduced or dismissed. Because of how subjective a marijuana DUI charge can be, please do not hesitate to seek an attorney after an arrest.
When you need a DUI attorney in Virginia, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or by calling one of our location phone numbers listed below. We are ready to help residents throughout Southampton and Greensville counties.