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Virginia criminal prosecutions- No more license suspensions for drug cases

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Virginia criminal prosecutions no longer involve driver license suspensions for drug cases

Virginia criminal prosecutions resulting in convictions for drug offenses previously brouht a mandatory six-month driving suspension, each run consecutively to the other count, and for dispositions under Va. Code § 18.2-251 as well. As a Fairfax drug and criminal defense lawyer, I know that the commonwealth’s law wisely changed in 2020 to eliminate that state of affairs. This blog entry is meant to make this law change clear, because a Google search does not seem otherwise to display such an explanation, and it seems that not all Virginia drug defendants know about this law change.

What did the superseded law say about driving license suspensions for Virginia criminal prosecutions resulting in drug convictions?

The superseded drug-license suspension law, codified as Virginia Code § 18.2-259.1, provided that in Virginia criminal prosecutions alleging a drug law violation, as well as a 251 disposition, operated to deprive that person “of the privilege to drive or operate a motor vehicle… in the Commonwealth for a period of six months from the date of such judgment or placement on probation.” The history of the 2020 governor-passed legislation repealing the foregoing statute is here and here.

Do all judges know that the license suspension requirement for drug convictions has been repealed?

When I recently obtained a 251 disposition for a client at a Virginia Circuit Court sentencing, the judge checked with his clerk whether he needed to suspend my client’s driving privileges. The clerk correctly answered no. If the judge thought otherwise, all I needed to do was to show him the foregoing links demonstrating that the license suspension law for drug cases had been repealed. Keep this in mind for such Virginia criminal prosecutions.

How should I defend myself against a Virginia drug prosecution?

A Virginia drug prosecution calls for fully defending yourself. Here is one of my essential drug defense articles. The elimination of driving privilege suspension for Virginia criminal prosecutions for alleged drug offenses does not diminish the importance of fully defending against such damning charges. 251 dispositions are not guaranteed for drug possession charges — and are not available to those with a previous 251 disposition or applicable drug conviction — and an outcome better than a 251 is preferable, and a finding of a violation of probation on a 251 disposition risks both a conviction and incarceration. A conviction for drug selling, possession with intent to distribute or manufacturing (collectively drug trafficking) carries active jail time in the Virginia advisory sentencing guidelines when a Schedule I or II drug is involved.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DUI, drug, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions, since 1999. Learn the positive difference that Jon Katz can make to your defense by arranging a free in-person confidential consultation about your court-pending criminal case, at 703-383-1100