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In the past, people that were convicted of possession of marijuana in the commonwealth of Virginia would automatically lose their driver's license for six months as part of their sentence. Now, Virginia residents who are facing drug possession charges for marijuana may be able to keep their license.

According to the newly enacted law, when an adult is convicted of possession of marijuana, judges can order 50 hours of community service in lieu of a driver's license suspension. The change in law has to do with the fact that many people who lose their driver's licenses end up losing their jobs because they have no way to get to work. Losing a job can be devastating, especially for people with children.

However, this new law does not apply to minors or people convicted of marijuana possession while operating a vehicle. In such cases, the DMV will still suspend the motorist's license for six months.

This change, which was delayed four months due to the fear of losing state funding by implementing the new law, is not the only change on the horizon for drug laws in Virginia. One lawmaker is in the process of preparing a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, making it only a civil offense. This would significantly reduce the number of Virginia arrests per year and may have a positive effect on the community overall.

If you are convicted of drug possession or distribution, you may face license suspension, jail time, fines and other serious consequences. The severity of your penalties will depend on the type of drug, quantity, and whether there is evidence of intent to distribute. A criminal defense attorney can defend you against these charges and work toward getting the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Source: NBC 29, "Law Removing Mandatory License Suspension with Marijuana Charge Goes into Effect," Emmy Freedman, Nov. 7, 2017

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