Because of the unique nature of Prince William County marijuana DUI charges, the standard of proof which a prosecutor has to meet is much more challenging to reach. The law is less specific with regard to drug-related DUIs, which allows you defenses that are not typically viable for alcohol-related DUIs. To protect your rights and hold the Commonwealth of Virginia to the burden it must meet, reach out to a dedicated attorney today.
The underlying charge for driving under the influence encompasses driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of alcohol and/or drugs, including prescription drugs and marijuana. When marijuana-related, a prosecutor cannot rely on any specific measurement of marijuana or THC to prove intoxication, and thus must have an expert testify as to whether the person was “under the influence.”
A person who is facing a charge for driving under the influence of marijuana is also more likely to be charged with additional crimes in addition to a DUI. Oftentimes, a person who has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana is often charged with possession of marijuana at the same time.
The maximum penalty for a DUI charge is one year in jail, but it is unlikely that someone who does not have a record ends up serving a year in jail for a marijuana DUI charge in Prince William County. For most DUIs in which there are no aggravating factors, such as a previous criminal record, car accident, or additional charges, judges will often sentence the individual to probation rather than active jail time.
Under the law, anyone convicted of a DUI in Virginia would have their driver’s license suspended for a period of one year and would have to complete the Virginia Drug and Alcohol Safety course. They could apply for a restricted license, but would need to have their car equipped with an ignition interlock in order to drive. A person convicted of a marijuana or other drug-related DUI would still be required to have an ignition interlock installed on their car even if alcohol was not involved in their specific crime.
The main way in which marijuana cases are different from alcohol-based cases is the type of evidence on which the prosecutor will seek to rely. In most alcohol cases, the prosecutor will rely on a breathalyzer test, which is admissible in court without expert testimony. However, there is no breath test for marijuana, so the prosecutor will have to rely on a blood test combined with expert testimony.
Another major difference between alcohol and marijuana is that the law allows a judge to infer that someone is “under the influence” if they have a certain amount of alcohol in their system. There is no corresponding inference for having a certain amount of marijuana in their bloodstream. In other words, a blood test that shows a person has a certain amount of alcohol in their bloodstream can be enough to prove them guilty of DUI, but that is not the case for marijuana. In a marijuana-related DUI case, in addition to relying on the blood chemical analysis, the prosecutor will have to prove intoxication with expert testimony and corroborating evidence such as driving behavior or performance on field sobriety tests.
There may be some experts who are willing to testify that having a particular amount of THC in the bloodstream would make it unsafe for an individual to drive or would make that individual intoxicated. But, there are certainly experts who would say, and there is a general consensus, that there is no way to tell simply by the amount of THC in someone’s bloodstream whether they were intoxicated at that time. That is because THC builds up in the bloodstream over time, and someone who uses marijuana regularly will have a large amount of THC in their bloodstream even if they are not intoxicated at that time.
That being the case, the prosecutor cannot just rely on the fact that there is THC in someone’s bloodstream. They will have to rely on other evidence to corroborate the chemical analysis to prove that the individual was intoxicated. That makes it more difficult for the prosecutor to prove their case, and may force them to rely on the testimony of the officer and video footage to show the individual’s driving, appearance, memory, behavior, and motor skills.
Because of the unique nature of Prince William County marijuana DUI charges, the burden of proof that prosecutors must meet is exceptionally high and often controversial. This leaves you with options when it comes to your legal defense. To better acquaint yourself with potential legal defenses, contact an experienced attorney who could help today.
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