Virginia Marijuana DWI Defense Attorney
If you were arrested or charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Virginia, your first call should be to Upton Law, PLLC, for help.
The consequences of a conviction for marijuana DWI could have a significant impact on your life and livelihood. With an experienced Virginia marijuana DUI defense lawyer on your side, however, it may be possible to get the charges against you reduced or dropped altogether.
As an experienced Virginia marijuana DUI defense lawyer, Samantha Upton is committed to protecting your rights. Samantha will remain in your corner throughout the entire legal process.
Can I Be Arrested and Charged with DWI on Marijuana in Virginia?
Although zero-tolerance laws are in place for motorists under 21 who drink and drive, there are no Virginia zero-tolerance marijuana DUI laws on the books. Other states may specify a level of impairment that can lead to an automatic arrest and charge for DUI of marijuana. However, there is no such limit in Virginia at this time.
As of July 1, 2021, the recreational use of marijuana is legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Anyone 21 or older is legally allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. However, it is still unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana to the degree that it impairs your ability to drive safely.
Because recent marijuana consumption cannot be proven with a breathalyzer test or blood tests the way alcohol consumption can, law enforcement can assume that a driver is intoxicated if an open container of marijuana is found in their car.
An “open container” is defined as “any vessel containing marijuana except the originally sealed manufacturer’s container.” Because the commercial production and sale of marijuana will continue to be illegal in Virginia until 2024, it would theoretically be possible for an officer to arrest a sober driver for marijuana DUI because of marijuana the driver legally possessed and had not yet consumed.
For the time being, the best solution is to avoid traveling in a vehicle that contains marijuana.
How to Protect Your Rights During a Marijuana DWI Stop
If law enforcement officials pull you over while you’re driving, there are some things you should do to protect your rights.
- Refuse field sobriety tests. An officer might ask you to step out of your car and take a field sobriety test if they suspect that you’re under the influence of marijuana. However, agreeing to this test is not mandatory in Virginia. Additionally, you won’t face any penalties for refusing the test. However, you should get out of the car when the officer asks.
- Don’t admit to anything. Even if you did ingest marijuana before getting behind the wheel, you should not admit it to law enforcement. You have a right to remain silent and don’t have to engage in conversation if the officer asks you questions that could cause you to incriminate yourself.
- Keep calm and be respectful to the officer. If you get upset, it may reinforce the officer’s opinion that you are impaired. It could also escalate the situation – and the charges you may face.
- Call a Virginia marijuana lawyer. If you’re arrested for DWI for marijuana intoxication, you have a right to an attorney. However, you should never assume that law enforcement will honor your constitutionally granted rights. They may try to question you at the station, hoping that you make some sort of admission. You can refuse to answer their questions and inform them that you would like to contact your lawyer. Once you say that, they can’t legally continue the interrogation.
How to Fight Your Marijuana DUI Charges
You might worry that an arrest means you’re going to end up with a conviction. But you are innocent until proven guilty, and hiring a Virginia marijuana DUI lawyer is the first step you can take toward protecting your rights. You don’t have to accept heavy fines, probation, or being forced to give up your driver’s license.
You have a right to fight back against the charges against you. The prosecution has the burden of proving you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many ways that an experienced defense attorney can demonstrate doubt.
The Penalties for a Drug-Related DWI Conviction
A conviction for marijuana DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense under Virginia law. Potential penalties could include up to 12 months in jail, a maximum of a $2,500 fine, or both.
As part of your sentence, a judge could impose additional marijuana DUI penalties, including:
- Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
- Completion of a mandatory drug or alcohol program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device in your car
If this is your first DUI charge, you might receive a shorter jail sentence. You might even be able to avoid jail time altogether and receive probation and suspended jail time instead. It depends on the circumstances of the crime.
Common Defenses to Marijuana DUI Charges
A skilled marijuana DUI defense attorney in Virginia knows the appropriate defenses to employ if you’ve been charged with a marijuana-related offense. The strategy used will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Some of the most common defenses include:
- Violation of your rights – If law enforcement violated your rights at any time, you could potentially have your case dismissed. Violations could involve the arresting officer failing to read your Miranda rights, denying your right to call your attorney during questioning, or illegally searching your car for evidence.
- Lack of probable cause – The traffic stop itself may have violated your constitutional rights, depending on the circumstances. Police must have a valid reason to pull you over beside a “hunch” if they suspect you are impaired by marijuana.
- Inadmissible blood or urine tests – If you submitted to a marijuana test, I might be able to prevent it from being presented in court. For example, if vital evidence went missing from the chain of custody for a certain amount of time, the prosecutor can’t show it to the jury.
Don’t make the mistake of representing yourself in court or relying on an overworked public defender. You should have a competent lawyer by your side to fight for you.
How a Virginia Marijuana DUI Attorney Can Help
If you were arrested or charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Virginia, contact the experts at Upton Law, PLLC, to review the facts of your case and determine your available legal options. Call now for a confidential consultation and free case evaluation with a Virginia criminal defense attorney.