Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs in Minnesota

It is pretty clear that, like the rest of the United States, drunk driving in Minnesota means driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater. However; driving under the influence of drugs is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem throughout the Nation.

The opioid and heroin epidemic in America means that there are more and more drivers on the road that are just as incapacitated and incapable as drunk drivers. The fact that many of these drivers are on a prescription medication that is written by a doctor also creates an attitude that driving while medicated may be acceptable.

The Nationwide push for the legalization of marijuana also increases the amount of drugged drivers on the road since there is an underlying theme that getting high on marijuana is “no big deal”. However; drugged driving, regardless of what the drug is, can have severe consequences. These consequences can be just as bad (and often worse) as driving while intoxicated by alcohol.

Minnesota DUI Drug Laws

Minnesota law dictates that it is illegal for a driver to be found to have any class I or ll controlled substances (or metabolites of) in their body while driving and up to two hours after driving. The law reads as follows;

“…… (a) person is guilty of a DWI if he or she drives while under the influence of a controlled substance, or if the person is knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive. Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 169A.20[1](2)-(3) (West 2010)…..”

In real-life terms; this means that if a person is pulled over and the officer has reason to believe that they are under the influence of drugs, they are taken in, and asked to submit to a urine or drug test. If controlled substances (or metabolites of) are found to be in their body within two hours of driving, the driver will be subject to DUI and drug charges.

The Issue of Marijuana in Minnesota

This is, with the exception of “marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols”.

Obviously, the exception is controversial; as if the law is condoning the act of driving while high on marijuana.

There are many citizens and officials who are concerned about the exception for several reasons.

For one thing; just because marijuana cannot literally kill a person through overdose like alcohol and heroin, does not mean that it is any less dangerous to be under the influence of behind a wheel. Evidence (and common sense) suggests that marijuana smokers have much slower reaction times than other drivers. There are even studies that indicate marijuana smoker’s reaction times are less predictable than drunk drivers.

DWI For Over the Counter Cold Medicine but Not Marijuana?

Another interesting issue, is that the law in Minnesota specifically addresses non-controlled substances (and schedule lll, lV and V controlled substances) that inebriate a person,

“…..(p)erson is knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive…”

So, in theory, a person taking Delsym for a bad cough could get a DWI while a person that illegally bought marijuana from a drug dealer, got high and drove…. would not get a DWI.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Consequences
Regardless of the substance, driving while ability impaired by drugs is a serious breach of the law; resulting in fines and even jail time. Even under the influence of marijuana may result in a possession charge. Needless to say; a drugged driver will almost always need legal assistance.

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