Those are the two main ways that the State can prove their case in a Fairfax DUI drug case: the first is through an analysis of the driver’s blood that shows a certain drug in their system, and the second is by observations of the driver’s behavior as being so impaired as not to be able to operate a motor vehicle.
However, showing that the individual was under the influence of drugs to the extent that it impaired their ability to drive a motor vehicle is a very subjective and vague standard, and whether or not a person’s “ability to drive” was impaired will be in the eye of the fact finder, which will be either the judge or the jury hearing the case. Thus, the State will need to prove the fact finder that the individual was operating a motor vehicle and that they were doing so under the influence of drugs to the extent that it impaired their ability to drive. With this in mind, a DUI drug lawyer in Fairfax will know the possible defense strategies against these proofs, and will be able to advice a defendant on how to proceed in these cases.
Driving under the influence of cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, or even marijuana, can trigger a DUID charge, however it is not necessary for a drug to be illegal for a DUID to be charged. Any drug that impairs a person’s ability to drive can lead to a DUI charge.
For example, if the individual has taken too much of a legal drug to the point that it impairs their ability to drive, they can be found guilty of a DUID. There are numerous over-the-counter medications that anyone can buy that are perfectly legal. However, if they take too much of a certain medication, it may impair their ability to drive, which can result in a DUID conviction.
If someone is under the influence of over-the-counter drugs, even though they are legal, they can be found guilty of DUID. In a DUID case, it is not about the exact type of drug a person has consumed but rather the act of driving in an impaired condition that prevents them from safely and correctly operating a motor vehicle. Thus, in a DUID case, it does not matter what the drugs are; it is a matter of how the drugs affect the person.
For example, if someone took to much Robitussin, a legal cold medication, and got behind the wheel of their vehicle, they can easily be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs. In this case, it is about amount and the way that the medicine is affecting the driver. Even if the individual has a normal or recommended dosage of an over the counter drug, if it affects them in a way that would lead an officer to believe that they are under the influence, they can be found guilty of a DUID.
Mixing drugs and alcohol can affect the way the case is prosecuted and defended. While different set of facts make every case different, there is a provision in the Virginia Code that specifically prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle while under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree that impairs the individual’s ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle. Even if someone takes a legal amount of prescribed drugs and a legal amount of a legal substance, such as wine, the combination of those two can affect their ability to drive. This can be enough to get someone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol if it has impaired their ability to drive the vehicle.
While it is possible that the case can change in the way it is presented, generally the police officer must explain why the combined use of drugs and alcohol has impaired the individual’s ability to drive a motor vehicle. That is all they must prove.
The penalties for driving under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol are the exact thing as they are for driving under the influence of alcohol alone or from driving under the influence of drugs alone. They are all Class 1 misdemeanors and face the same punishment and sanctions. The difference is the severity of the accused’s intoxication, regardless of whether it was just alcohol, just drugs, or a combination.
While marijuana cases are more common than other cases, they are taken and treated no less severely than any other DUI case. Again, in DUID cases, it is less the matter of what drug is in the person’s system than it is their level of impairment. In general, police want to prevent people from driving under the influence of any drug, whether it is marijuana, alcohol, over-the-counter medicine or illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines. The real crux of their concern is whether the individual is in a condition to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The legalization of marijuana will not likely affect the way police handle drug DUI cases. If anything, there may be more arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana now that it is legal in neighboring jurisdictions. The legality of the drug, especially in other jurisdictions, does not really make a difference regarding whether the individual is impaired while driving. Police are not likely to be more lenient just because the drug is legal elsewhere.