Oct 04, 2020 Fairfax DUI lawyer on driving under the influence of drugs & marijuana
Fairfax DUI lawyer says Virginia charges of driving under the influence of drugs & marijuana are defensible
Fairfax DUI lawyer / Virginia driving under the influence attorney Jon Katz knows that a prosecution for drug-impaired driving is defensible. At the same time, it bears stating that driving under the influence of any drug is a crime in Virginia, whether or not the drug is prescribed or over the counter, illegal, or marijuana, even though simple marijuana possession (not for distribution nor sale) now is decriminalized as a civil offense carrying a $25 fine as the penalty.
What does the Virginia DUI statute prohibit as to drugs and marijuana?
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I know that Virginia law prohibits the following: “It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train … (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or (v) while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than: (a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood, (b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, (c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or (d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood.” Va. Code § 18.2-266.
In other words, even a lawfully-co0nsumed drug or intoxicant can be the subject of a DUI drugs or marijuana charge. Moreover, the Virginia DUI statute sets a per se illegal level for driving with at least a 0.02 cocaine level, 0.1 methamphetamine level, and 0.01 PCP level, and 0.1 MDMA / Ecstasy level. One of my focuses as a Fairfax DUI lawyer for defending such a charge is to be ready to show the extent to which any lawfully prescribed medicine or over the counter medicine was taken as prescribed or directed, at a therapeutic level and at a level unlikely to impair driving.
Fairfax DUI lawyer on reducing the risk of being arrested, prosecuted for, and convicted for Virginia DWI involving drugs and marijuana?
The best way to avoid being arrested, prosecuted and convicted for driving under the influence of drugs and marijuana is to not drive while those substances might be in your bloodstream. Of course, THC — a main active ingredient in marijuana — can take weeks to leave one’s bloodstream. If a driver asserts his or her right to remain silent with the police, to refuse field sobriety tests and to decline searches, that might also reduced one’s risk of conviction for such a Virginia criminal charge. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I repeatedly remind people of these rights.
Does drug and THC blood alcohol level correlate to impairment?
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I know that impaired driving cannot ordinarily be established by blood drug and THC levels. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) of the federal Transportation Department — which publishes a Standard Field Sobriety Testing manual — published a 2003 report entitled “State of Knowledge of Drug-Impaired Driving” that concedes the difficulty in correlating THC and drugs in one’s bloodstream or other bodily fluids with impairment. For instance, as to blood, this report says: “In terms of attempting to link drug concentrations to behavioral impairment, blood is probably the specimen of choice. However, forensic toxicologists generally have failed to agree on specific plasma concentrations that could be designated as evidence of impairment (Consensus Development Panel, No Date). The lack of consensus about per se levels of drugs where impairment could be deemed makes it difficult to identify, prosecute or convict drugged drivers in most states.”
What should I do if charged with violating the Virginia DUI law as to drugs or marijuana?
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I provide the following tips for some steps to take if you are charged with violating Virginia’s DWI law as to drugs or marijuana:
- Obtain a qualified Virginia DUI lawyer
- Discuss with your lawyer proactive steps you can take to help your defense
- Talk with your lawyer about timely filing an order to transfer a portion of any blood drawn from you by police directive, to a private lab for analysis
- Talk with your lawyer about issuing a records subpoena / subpoena duces tecum to obtain the notes and reports of the Virginia Deparatment of Forensic Science (“DFS”) forensic toxicologist(s) who have examined your blood for presence of alcohol
- Talk with your lawyer about whether it is advisable to hire a private forensic toxicologist or other suitable scientific expert witness to challenge the evidence against you
Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DWI prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal or DUI case.