Virginia's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Virginia.

Virginia’s drugged driving law is located at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266. The law states that, “It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle… while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle safely, or while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than:

(a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood,

(b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood,

(c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or

(d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood.

Virginia’s law combines an impairment standard with a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition regarding specific drugs. That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that specific amounts of  the prohibited drug is in the driver's body while the driver is operating the vehicle. Other than the per se/zero tolerance rule, an arrest can be triggered by a driver impaired by drugs.

What drugs are prohibited?

Virginia’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of any “narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature.” A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Virginia?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Virginia will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Virginia’s DUI laws.

Do Virginia drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood testing. The refusal to take the test cannot be admitted into evidence against the driver except as rebuttal evidence.

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