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Is driving after taking a prescription drug illegal in Virginia?

Like many of our surrounding states, Virginia now recognizes the benefits of medical marijuana, which is why our legislature last year passed a house bill that now allows a very small percentage of residents access to medicinal cannabis. But while this new law affects only a small number of people, they all potentially face a serious predicament down the road.

The possible predicament is driving under the influence. As we explained back in November in another of our posts, driving under the influence of a drugs, including marijuana, can lead to criminal charges and a DUI. Of course, as we also explained, it's very difficult to place a one-size-fits-all reaction to the drug over all people because it does affect everyone differently.

Whether the prescription is for medical marijuana or another medication, it’s very important for drivers to know how the prescription drug will impact their ability to drive. If the drug has a particular impact on reasoning and motor skills, and a doctor has advised the driver to avoid operating a motor vehicle, then driving after taking a prescription drug could lead to serious penalties, including license revocation, fines and even fail time.

Though it's unknown at this time if our state legislature will expand our medical marijuana laws to include more people later on, it is clear that our current criminal laws can mean trouble for those it already applies too. That's why we hope today's readers will consider the question we have raised in today's post and know that driving after taking a prescription drug can lead to criminal charges down the road.

Sources: The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Medications," Accessed Jan. 19, 2016

The Marijuana Policy Project, "Virginia takes a small step forward toward sensible marijuana policy," Sept. 14, 2015

Virginia Decoded, "§ 18.2-266, Driving motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc.," Accessed Jan. 19, 2016

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