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How does Minnesota define drug-impaired driving?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | DWI |

Drivers get arrested for impairment at the wheel every day in Minnesota. The vast majority of them face charges related to alcohol intoxication. Therefore, most Minnesota motorists already know the general rules that apply to drunk driving cases. They know about the legal limit for someone’s blood alcohol concentration and that police officers may conduct sobriety testing to validate whether or not someone can safely drive.

When it comes to drugged driving, people may feel less certain about what the law says. How does Minnesota define drugged driving offenses?

Several scenarios may constitute drugged driving

According to state statutes, drug impaired driving involves operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled or hazardous substances. The legality of the substance does not affect the legality of the decision to drive. People can face drugged driving charges if they take too much cough medicine before driving or have legal prescriptions for certain types of medication. Anyone who admits to being under the influence of substances that may affect their cognition, wakefulness or motor function could be at risk of a drugged driving charge.

How does the state handle drugged driving cases?

To a large extent, drugged driving cases are much like drunk driving cases. Prosecutors bring charges under the same statute. Any amount of a drug in someone’s bloodstream could be enough to prosecute them even if they didn’t display obvious difficulty controlling a vehicle.

The penalties for drugged driving are the same as they are in drunk driving cases. A first drugged driving offense could lead to up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The courts also typically suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for at least three months. Those with prior offenses are at risk of more serious penalties. They may have to serve between one and seven years in jail and may need to pay as much as $14,000 in fines. The length of the driver’s license suspension could also increase to as much as six years.

The defense strategies that work in drugged driving cases are different than the defense strategies people might use in a drunk driving case. Some drivers can prove that a traffic stop was illegal. Others might try to establish that test results were inaccurate or did not indicate a likelihood of impairment. The best approach to planning a defense strategy depends on the substance involved and the reason for someone’s arrest. Learning about Minnesota’s impaired driving rules can benefit those facing pending charges. An assertive response might help someone avoid a life-altering criminal conviction.