Selective Summary of Laws Governing Alcohol and Drugs Commonwealth of Virginia 2017

(Virginia Code sections referenced)

Alcohol

The minimum legal age in Virginia for the purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21 years of age.

ViolationPossible Penalty
Possession or consumption under 21 (4.1-305) Misdemeanor; mandatory loss of driver's license for six months (up to 1 year) AND mandatory minimum $500 fine or 50 hours community service
Use of fraudulent driver's license ID to purchase alcoholic beverages (4.1-305) Misdemeanor -- mandatory loss of driver's license for six months (up to 1 year) AND mandatory minimum $500 fine or 50 hours community service
Drinking in Public* (18.2-306)
NOTE: The definition of a public place includes any sidewalk adjoining a public street. (4.1-100; 4.1-128)
Misdemeanor; fine not to exceed $250
Purchase of alcoholic beverages for intoxicated individuals (4.1-306) Misdemeanor -- mandatory loss of driver's license for up to 1 year AND fine not to exceed $2500 and/or jail for up to 12 months
Purchasing, giving, or assisting in providing alcohol to person under 21 (4.1-306) Misdemeanor -- mandatory loss of driver's license for up to 1 year AND fine not to exceed $2500 and/or jail for up to 12 months
Purchase, possession, use, selling, or offering for sale or use powdered or crystalline alcohol (4.1-302.2) Misdemeanor -- mandatory loss of license for one year AND mandatory minimum $500 fine (up to $2500) or 50 hours community service; possible jail for up to 12 months
Consuming alcoholic beverages while driving motor vehicle (18.2-323.1) Misdemeanor; fine not to exceed $250
Driving after illegally consuming alcohol under age 21-.02% BAC or more constitutes a violation; requires no showing of impaired driving
(18.2-266.1, 46.2-391.2)
Misdemeanor -- Suspension of driver's license for one year and either a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or performance of a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI); .08% BAC presumes alcohol intoxication, but can be convicted on lower BAC; specified levels of certain drugs also presume intoxication
(18.266-270, 36.2-391.2)
Misdemeanor -- fine not to exceed $2500 (mandatory minimum of $250 and/or jail for 12 months, and loss of driver's license for 1 year, in addition to automatic, administrative 7-day license suspension upon arrest or refusal to take a breath test and immediate vehicle impound.
Driving on Restricted permit with BAC of .02 or more (18.2-272, 46.2-389/391) Misdemeanor; fine not to exceed $2500 and/or jail for 12 months, and loss of driver's license for 1-3 years.
Driving under the influence of alcohol with passenger age seventeen (17) or younger (18.2-270) Misdemeanor; with additional fine of $500 to $1000 and mandatory minimum five days in jail, beyond penalties for DUI
Unreasonable refusal to take breath test (18.2-268.3/4) Loss of driver's license for 12 months

*Note: Virginia law provides for arrest without warrant at any location within three hours of the occurrence of an accident if there is probable cause of driver intoxication.

Drugs

ViolationPossible Penalty
Marijuana Possession Misdemeanor; 30 days in jail and/or (18.2-250.1) $500 fine. Second offense - 12 months jail and/or $2500 fine
Marijuana Sale/Distribution ½ ounces or less: Misdemeanor; 12 months jail and/or $2500 fine
More than ½ ounce: Felony; 1 to 10 years prison OR 12 months jail and/or $2500 fine
Cocaine Possession (small amount)
(18.2-250)
Felony; 1 to 10 years prison OR 12 months jail and/or $2500 fine
Cocaine Sale/Distribution
(and large amt. possession)
Felony - 5 years to life in prison and $1,000,000 fine (18.2-248)
Mushrooms (Hallucinogens) Same as Cocaine
Cannabimimetic Agent Possession Misdemeanor; 12 months jail and/or $2,500 fine (18.2-250(a))
Cannabimimetic Agent Manufacture/Sale/Gift/Distribution or Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Give/Distribute Felony -5 to 40 years in prison and $500,000 fine (18.2-248)
Other Controlled Substances
(Including imitation controlled substances and prescription medication not pursuant to a valid prescription for the user)
Same as Cocaine
Anabolic Steroids
Sale/Distribution (18.2-248.5)
Felony -- 1 to 10 years prison OR 12 months jail and/or $20,000 fine
GHB (Date Rape Drug)
Manufacture/Sale/Gift/Distribution of Possession with Intent to Sell (18.2-251.3)
Felony; 5 to 20 years prison and $100,000 fine
Inhalent Use Misdemeanor; 12 months jail and/or $2,500 fine
Inhalent Inviting/Inducing use Misdemeanor; 6 months jail and/or $1,000 fine
Sale/Distribution, or Possession with Intent to Sell, Give or Distribute, on or Near School Property
(Imitation/Controlled Substances or any amount of Marijuana)
Felony -- 1-5 years prison and $100,000 fine
Paraphernalia
Possession/Distribution (18.2-265.3, 54.1-3466)
Misdemeanor; 12 months jail and/or $2500 fine

NOTE: All of these violations carry an additional penalty of loss of driver's license for 6 months (18.2-259.1)

NOTE: As of July 1, 2015, Virginia allows an affirmative defense to prosecution for simple possession of illegal drugs or paraphernalia, public intoxication, or unlawful possession, purchase, or consumption of alcohol for reporting of overdose.  Affirmative defense to prosecution only applies if, in good faith, an individual seeks emergency medical attention for self or another person for a life-threatening condition resulting from the consumption or use of alcohol, a controlled substance, or combination of substances by reporting the overdose to 911, law enforcement or firefighter, or emergency services medical personnel.  Individual must remain at the scene until law-enforcement responds, identify himself/herself, cooperate in any investigation of any reasonably related offense, AND the affirmative defense can apply only if the evidence for the prosecution of an offense was obtained as a result of the individual seeking emergency medical attention. (18.2-251.03)

Summary of Federal Drug Penalties

Federal law prohibits the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, use, and possession of controlled substances. Penalties depend on various factors, including the type and amount of the drug involved, and whether there is intent to distribute. Penalties under federal law range from less than one year to life imprisonment and/or $1,000 to $4 million fines for first offenses. Penalties may include forfeiture of property, including vehicles used to possess, transport or conceal a controlled substance, and forfeiture of Federal benefits, including student loans. A drug conviction may also result in future denial of professional licenses.

NOTE: A special sanction is provided for distribution and manufacturing near universities. Under federal law, any person who distributes, possesses with intent to distribute, or manufacture a controlled substance on or within one thousand feet of a university is subject to double the applicable maximum punishment.

Update on Virginia Motor Vehicle Law:

NOTE: As of July 1, 2013, texting or reading emails/texts while driving is a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop you for doing only that. The offense carries a $125 fine. (Va. Code Section 46.2-1078.1)

Updated August 2017