Drugged Driving Laws In MN
There has been a lot of discussion in recent months over the new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize the possession and consumption of small amounts of marijuana. The laws were heralded by some as a step in the right direction while others have noted that the laws further complicate already murky drugged driving regulations. Though Minnesota has not passed any such decriminalization measure, our laws regarding drugged driving are already convoluted. To find out more, keep reading.
What is drugged driving?
As everyone knows, drunk driving occurs when a driver is under the influence of alcohol and that alcohol has impaired the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Similarly, drugged driving happens when a driver has consumed a drug, regardless of whether the drug is illegal, prescription or even over the counter, and that drug has impaired their ability to safely drive.
What does Minnesota law say about drugged driving?
According to Minnesota Statutes Section 169A.20, drugged driving happens when a person is operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance or any other substance that impacts the driver’s nervous system, brain or muscles in such a way as to substantially impair his or her ability to drive. If a person is found to be impaired by a hazardous substance in Minnesota, then he or she will face DWI charges.
How is drugged driving measured?
So far everything regarding drugged driving charges likely makes sense in that there are laws preventing drivers from operating a car while under the influence of dangerous drugs. However, the laws become very hazy when discussing how much drugs qualify a driver as impaired. In Minnesota, the law says that there is a zero tolerance policy for those found driving with any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in their blood. This is referred to as a per se offense and it means that for these substances there does not need to be any actual impairment in driving ability for the person to be slapped with a DWI charge and finding themselves in need of DUI defense.
What about marijuana?
Thankfully, this zero tolerance policy does not apply to marijuana or marijuana metabolites (the chemical substance that remains after marijuana has been metabolized in a person’s system). The zero tolerance law also does not apply to any other substance not listed as a Schedule I or II drug. This means that for marijuana and other non-Schedule I or II substances, officers will have to determine that the consumption of a drug has substantially impaired your ability to safely drive before arresting you for DWI.
When is a DWI Attorney needed?
As discussed above, if charged with DUI of a controlled substance, it is important to sit down with an attorney and provide them with the results of any blood or urine test that was used to determine the presence of drugs. Your attorney then should be able to assess which drugs are alleged to be in your system and if that particular drug is a controlled I or II substance. If so, it must be determined if the test is reliable and whether all protocol was followed during testing. If the drug is marijuana, your lawyer should review what evidence the prosecutor has with regard to any impairment on your part. We have been litigating DWI cases involving drugs for over 18 years. Feel free to contact our Minneapolis DWI defense firm for a free case evaluation.