When Harrisonburg, Virginia, residents think of a DUI, their first thought may involve driving after consuming too much alcohol. It may even be burned in their memories that if they test over .08 blood alcohol content after being pulled over, then they will likely face a DUI charge.
However, like other states, Virginia criminalizes driving under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs, including drugs and medicines that a person may have obtained legally.
The general rule is that if a person has taken a drug or combination of drugs, including alcohol, such that he can no longer operate a vehicle safely but chooses to drive anyway, then he can face a DUID charge. The penalties for a DUID are similar to those for an alcohol-related DUI, and they can include sanctions like a license suspension, probation and even jail time.
Whether someone is or is not able to drive a vehicle safely is largely a matter of the investigating officer’s professional opinion. That opinion can of course be questioned at a trial.
However, with respect to certain drugs, Virginia has also enacted what are called per se limits. Like the .08 BAC threshold, if someone has a concentration of one of these listed drugs in her system that is higher than the per se limit, she is presumed to have been driving under the influence of that drug. There are currently per se limits in place for cocaine, methamphetamine, angel dust and ecstasy.
Someone accused of a DUID, even if it is a first-time offense, will likely want to consult with a defense attorney in order to evaluate her legal options.