Is it legal to use marijuana in a parked car?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Criminal defense, Drug crimes

The evolution of marijuana laws across the United States has been captivating. In 2021, Virginia finally joined 23 other states in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Despite this groundbreaking shift, users must still exercise caution when consuming the substance, as straying beyond the legal limits could lead to harsh consequences.

The risks of using marijuana inside a car

In Virginia, adults aged 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana. That being said, this freedom comes with restrictions. The Code of Virginia explicitly states that individuals may not consume or use marijuana in public or inside a moving vehicle. Public spaces generally include parking lots and roads.

The law can get somewhat hazy when it comes to using the substance in a parked car on private property. While it seems safe, having control of the vehicle by sitting behind the steering wheel or having the keys in the ignition could result in driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges.

Additionally, merely having the substance inside the vehicle could spell legal trouble for the driver or their passengers. They risk violating Virginia’s open container laws if a police officer were to spot marijuana inside the car or notice the driver exhibiting characteristics that are “consistent with the consumption of marijuana or marijuana products.”

In essence, the safest and most legally sound place for individuals to use marijuana is inside their homes.

Protecting your rights

Violations of the state’s marijuana regulations could lead to minor criminal penalties, which include fines or harsher misdemeanor charges, which involve fines and jail time. It could be wise to consult an attorney if you are facing criminal charges despite using marijuana legally. An attorney can help you understand and comply with the ever-changing marijuana laws and safeguard your rights.