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During initial consultations, one of the most common reactions that I see is surprise upon learning that a conviction for possession of marijuana will result in a 6 month suspension of your drivers license. Even if you were simply walking down the street and an officer issued you a citation for possession of marijuana, a conviction would still result in license suspension – even though you were not driving at the time! Even if you’re currently not licensed, it will be six months from the conviction until you could get a license, so it suspends your ability to get a license. If you’re licensed in another state, for example, then your privilege to drive in Virginia would be suspended. For out of state residents this means that you would not be legally allowed to drive through our state for six months.
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1, it is unlawful for any person to “knowingly” possess marijuana. Generally, any person convicted of a first offense for possession of marijuana (less than one-half ounce) is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to confinement in jail for up to thirty (30) days and a fine of up to $500. Additionally, conviction under this statute requires a suspension of an individual’s license to drive a motor vehicle for six months. See Virginia Code §18.2-259.1. However, an individual whose license is suspended may petition the court for a restricted license to drive to work, school, church and medical appointments.
The main way that we can seek to avoid license suspension for a Virginia possession of marijuana charge is, of course, by fighting the charge head on. If the charge is dismissed, then obviously there would be no license suspension.
Another option to try to avoid license suspension is to try to have the charge amended from possession of marijuana to possession of drug paraphernalia. This is still a misdemeanor charge, and so it’s still a serious offense. However, people like it in some cases because there is no license suspension. This is a statue where usually the punishment would be a fine, but that depends upon the record.
As you can see, if you’re charged with Virginia possession of marijuana you should contact Justin Ervin at Ervin Kibria PLLC to discuss your case and evaluate your options. Learn more by visiting Fairfax Possession of Marijuana, Alexandria Possession of Marijuana, Arlington Possession of Marijuana, Loudoun Possession of Marijuana.
Justin Ervin is a criminal defense and immigration attorney who practices in Northern Virginia.
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Fax: (866) 709-5280