If you live in Virginia, you may want to learn the drug and alcohol laws. Doing so can help you avoid illegal situations.

Common questions about drug and alcohol laws in Virginia include:

  • What are the penalties for getting a DUI in Virginia?
  • Does Virginia have a zero tolerance law?
  • Is weed legal in Virginia?

Here, we’ll answer these questions and more. We’ll breakdown the various alcohol and drug laws in Virginia as well as the crimes and punishments.

DUI Laws in Virginia

DUI is short for ‘driving under the influence.’ It’s the common term for drunk driving.

But the official term Virginia uses is DWI. It stands for both ‘driving while intoxicated’ and ‘driving while impaired.’

In some states, DUIs have lesser charges than DWIs. In Virginia, there is no distinction. A DUI is a DWI.

A DWI includes:

  • Driving or operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher
  • Driving while using impairing substances such as cocaine or weed

You can get a DWI even when the car isn’t moving. You only need to have physical control of the vehicle.

Let’s say you’re in a parking lot with the car turned off. Being in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition is enough for a DWI charge.

Zero Tolerance Laws in Virginia

There are some situations where underage drinking in Virginia is permitted. For example, it’s okay if you’re on private property and have parental consent.

But when it comes to operating a vehicle, Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy. A zero-tolerance policy means it’s illegal for underage drivers to get behind the wheel with a BAC of .01% or more.

Is Marijuana Legal in Virginia?

Under federal law, weed is illegal. While some states have legalized it, Virginia has not.

It’s illegal to use weed in Virginia for medical and recreational purposes. There are few exceptions.

The state of Virginia allows marijuana use with a valid prescription from a doctor. But, even if you have a doctor’s prescription, you could still get arrested.

Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes in Virginia

The three main types of drug crimes in Virginia are:

  • Possession. It’s illegal to have any illicit drug or controlled substance without a valid prescription. The amount often influences the extent of penalties.
  • Distribution. Selling, delivering, or providing a person with illicit drugs in Virginia is a crime.
  • Manufacturing. Drug manufacturing is when someone produces a controlled substance. You can also get arrested for obtaining chemicals with the intent to manufacture the drug.

Alcohol-related crimes in Virginia include:

  • Serving alcohol to people under the age of 21.
  • Driving with a BAC of .08% (or .01% if underage).
  • Drinking alcohol in public places.
  • Using a fake ID to consume or buy alcohol.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in Virginia

If you violate drug or alcohol laws in Virginia, you may face serious penalties.

DWI Penalties in Virginia

For your first offense, DWI penalties include:

  • One year in jail
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Community service
  • One-year license suspension

Second and third charges have harsher penalties. You face at least a three-year license suspension. If it’s your third offense, you could lose your license forever. Jail time ranges between one and five years.

DWI convictions may include a mandatory alcohol education class. You might be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

Zero Tolerance Penalties in Virginia

An underage DWI is a misdemeanor. Penalties for breaking the zero-tolerance law in Virginia include:

  • Fines between $500 and $2,500
  • 50 hours of community service
  • One-year license suspension

Marijuana Penalties in Virginia

A first offense for weed possession includes up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.

Multiple offenses put a Class 1 misdemeanor on your record. You could face a $2,500 fine and spend a year in jail.

The punishments for distributing weed depend on the amount.

  • One half-ounce or less can lead to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
  • Distributing up to five pounds is a Class 5 felony. It includes a $2,500 fine and up to 10-year jail sentence.
  • Selling more than five pounds could mean thirty years in prison.

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse in Virginia

The penalties for drug and alcohol crimes are severe. But the danger goes beyond the legal issues. Drug abuse hurts your health and safety. It puts others at risk, too.

Concerns about Virginia’s drug and alcohol laws may indicate an underlying issue. If you suffer from substance abuse, it’s important to seek help. The sooner, the better.

A healthy life is possible. You just need to take the first step. Contact a local treatment center today to get started.


  1. https://dui.drivinglaws.org/virginia.php
  2. https://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-and-dwi/dui-laws-state/virginia-underage-dui.htm
  3. https://virginiarules.org/varules_topics/drugs-overview/
  4. https://norml.org/laws/item/virginia-penalties-2

We would love your feedback.

Was this article helpful?

Treatment Questions? Call 24/7.

(855) 265-2123