Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

In Minnesota, driving under the influence of drugs is illegal. According to Minnesota Statutes 169A.20, a person is guilty of DUID if s/he drives while under the influence of a controlled substance or any other hazardous substance that significantly affects his/her brain, muscles, and/or nervous system, thus impairing his/her ability to drive safely.

If a person tests positive for any Schedule I or II controlled substance other than marijuana and THC (tetrahydrocannabinals), the state has a zero-tolerance policy—also referred to as a per se prohibition. This means that if a driver is driving with any controlled substance in his/her body (except for marijuana), police may arrest the suspect. Further, even if the driver does not display actual evidence of impaired driving, police may still arrest the driver if the officer has reasonable belief that the driver is on a drug while driving.

Controlled Substances

Whether a substance is considered a controlled substance depends on its classification on the Controlled Substances Act schedules. Briefly, a Schedule I drug has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in the US. MDMA, heroin, and Ecstasy are all Schedule I drugs. Of particular importance is that even though marijuana and THC are, in fact, on the Schedule I list, recent decriminalization and legalization efforts have made these substances immune to certain DUID legislation.

A Schedule II drug has a high potential for abuse; however, it does have some currently accepted medical use in the US.

Additionally, a motorist is subject to arrest and conviction for a DUID for taking over-the-counter medications such as cough syrup or sleep aids.

Implied Consent

In Minnesota, any person who drives, operates, or otherwise physically controls a motor vehicle is subject to a chemical test—whether by breath, blood, or urine—to determine the presence of any alcohol and/or drugs. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court recently determining that a blood or urine test requires a warrant due to the invasiveness of such procedures, it upheld the legality and legitimacy of police requiring a suspect to consent to a breath test without a warrant. Refusing to submit to a breath test is a crime and will result in automatic driver’s license suspension.

At the time of the test request, police must provide the suspect a chance to meet with counsel before deciding whether to comply, and police may not withhold this right. If so, any test results are void and inadmissible in court.

Penalties

A first DUID is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 180 days of driver’s license suspension. Refusing to submit to a chemical test is automatically punishable by 180 days of driver’s license suspension.

For a second offense occurring within ten (10) years, the defendant is subject to a minimum of 30 days in jail with a minimum of 48 hours served, eight (8) hours of community work service for each day served that is less than the original sentence, and/or driver’s license suspension for up to one year

A third offense within ten (10) years is punishable by a minimum of 90 days in jail with at least 30 days served, mandatory participation in an intense probation program for repeat DUI/DUID offenders, and/or a license suspension of up to two (2) years.

A fourth offense is punishable by up to 180 days in jail with at least 30 days served, mandatory participation in an intense probation program for repeat DUI/DUID offenders, and/or indefinite driver’s license suspension.

Finally, for fifth and subsequent offenses, the defendant is subject to a minimum of one year in jail with at least 60 days served, mandatory participation in an intense probation program for repeat DUI/DUID offenders, and indefinite driver’s license revocation.

Of particular importance is the growing trend of life sentences for serious repeat DUI/DUID offenders.

For more information, or if you or a loved one is facing any alcohol-related offense, please contact us.