In Virginia, the first thought when discussing driving under the influence is if a driver has gotten behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. However, with the increase in legalized cannabis and more people using it, a rising number of drivers are facing charges for operating their vehicles after using marijuana. This too can result in a DUI with the accompanying criminal penalties if there is a conviction.
Cannabis authority tries to prevent drug DUIs
Drivers are being implored to avoid drug-related DUIs. The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority has launched a campaign to try and prevent this from escalating. It surveyed residents to try and determine the pervasiveness of the issue.
The survey consisted of around 800 people. Some confessed to driving after using cannabis more than once. The numbers are worrisome to CCA and other safety entities. Three in 10 said they felt using cannabis enhanced safety. One-quarter of respondents stated that it was extremely dangerous. For context, they also believe that it is not as risky as drinking and driving and texting and driving.
Because marijuana is legal, many are taking that to mean it is safe to use before driving. Law enforcement is vigilant about catching drivers who commit DUI after using cannabis. Virginia law enforcement statistics show that in 2022, there were more than 1,500 people arrested for marijuana-related crimes, a percentage of which were driving-related.
Cannabis DUIs can lead to severe penalties
A cannabis-related DUI can result in a person losing their driving privileges, be fined and even incarcerated. In addition, there are ancillary penalties like raised insurance rates and potential obstacles in getting certain jobs.
Since cannabis is now legal for recreational and medical use in the commonwealth, it is imperative that drivers are simultaneously cognizant of the challenges they can face if they are accused of driving after using it. Just like alcohol-related DUI, there are defenses that can be effective to avoid a conviction or reduce the possible penalties.
Perhaps the officer did not have a reasonable justification to make the traffic stop. There could have been an issue with analyzing whether the driver was intoxicated. The testing procedures for cannabis differ from alcohol testing and this could be a way to fight the case. There are avenues to combat any DUI and knowing what strategies might be effective is key from the start.