The Minneapolis Police Department, alongside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other state agencies, have worked diligently and aggressively to combat drunk driving in the state of Minnesota. In fact, though currently one in seven Minnesota residents has a DWI conviction on their record, drunk driving rates have dropped over the past decade. This has resulted in less drunk driving crashes, as well as fewer DWI arrests. This is in large part thanks to increased education and awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. In addition, police departments across the state, including the Minneapolis Police Department, have recently received special funding from the NHTSA that will permit them to hire full-time DWI enforcement officers who will focus solely on DWI arrests.
While alcohol-fueled crashes and arrests are at an all-time low, drugged driving is now on the rise in Minnesota. Recently, law enforcement agencies throughout the state gathered for a town hall in Byron to discuss the spike in driving under the influence of drugs. The police departments gave an organized talk titled “Drug Use: The Road Ahead in SE Minnesota.”
To demonstrate the shocking increase in drugged driving, only five individuals were arrested back in 1990 for driving while high on drugs. However, in 2014, a whopping 1,300 people were arrested. In fact, Minnesota State Patrol officer Don Marose believes that the real rate of drugged driving is even higher. He estimates that of the 30,000 DWI alcohol-related arrests that occur each year in Minnesota, almost half also involved the presence of drugs. And of these drugged drivers, almost half had multiple drugs in their system.
Unlike alcohol-related DWI driving, which occurs mainly in the evening or on holidays, drugged driving occurs at all hours of the day. According to Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, “We’re seeing it at all times of the day. First thing in the morning, late at night, people passed out in their car at noon in a parking lot.”
Minnesota’s DWI statute does not focus entirely on alcohol. It prohibits driving under the influence of a drug that could impair one’s normal faculties. These drugs could be illegal narcotics or even legal prescription drugs. However, despite the law banning drugged driving, officers are ill-equipped to handle this spike. Detecting drugged driving is different and more difficult than detecting driving while intoxicated. For example, a simple breathalyzer test at the scene of the traffic stop can confirm the presence of alcohol. However, a blood or urine test is necessary to definitively detect drugs in one’s system.
Minnesota DWI laws regarding license suspension have not yet been outfitted to handle drugged driving. Blood and urine tests can take anywhere from four to six months for results. Without results, the state cannot suspend the driver’s license. However, once a positive result is confirmed, the prosecutor will pursue the DWI case like a regular drunk driver case.
The state of Minnesota classifies drugged driving as driving under the influence of a controlled substance that impairs the driver’s faculties. Controlled substances include illegal street drugs and pharmaceutical drugs. Marijuana, meth, and cocaine are the most common drugs found in drugged drivers. Other drugs include:
- Crack cocaine
- K2/Spice synthetic marijuana
- Sleeping pills like Ambien
- Painkillers like Oxycontin
- Stimulants like Adderall
- Other drugs that cause an individual to become sleepy such as muscle relaxers or Xanax
- Prescription drugs that result in hallucinations
The side effects of legal pharmaceutical drugs can create unsafe driving situations. In addition, these legal drugs can become illegal if there is no valid prescription.
If you were arrested for DWI in Minneapolis or Minnesota, put our 20 years of DWI defense on your side. Call our Bloomington criminal defense law firm today at (952) 835-6314 to discuss your charges.