Driving While Medicated Can Get You Arrested [infographic]

In Minnesota, driving while under the influence of a substance that impairs a motorist’s ability to drive is considered a crime. If a driver knowingly operates a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication, he/she can be arrested for a DUI.

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Drugged Driving Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota law has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of controlled substances, with the exception of cannabis or cannabis metabolites. The law states that any person who drives operates, or is in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance is committing a crime. If a driver tests positive for a Schedule I or II substance that impairs physical and mental functions, he/she can be arrested and charged with a DUI offense. A criminal law attorney often sees cases where drivers are impaired by prescription medications, yet they get behind the wheel of a car. According to Minnesota drugged driving laws, a driver can be charged with a DUI is he/she has consumed a drug that has impaired the ability to drive safely, whether the drug is illegal, prescription or over the counter.

Controlled Substances

Under Minnesota law, the term “controlled substance” refers to any drug that impairs the brain, nervous system, and motor skills. Such substances are listed as Schedule I and II drugs. The list is extensive and includes a long list of different narcotics, depressants, opiates, and hallucinogens. Schedule I includes ecstasy, heroin, and LSD. Schedule II includes oxycodone, methadone, methamphetamine, cocaine, codeine, and morphine. Minnesota drug laws prohibit the use of these drugs in any amount while operating a motor vehicle.

If a driver tests positive for a Schedule I or II drug and is charged with a DUI, he/she may be able to use proof of a valid prescription medication prescribed by a physician as a DUI defense. However, the defense may not apply if the driver is charged with driving under the influence of the drug, as opposed to just having a concentration of the drug in the bloodstream. Penalties for drugged driving are the same as for drunk driving in Minnesota. In addition, a conviction for driving under the influence of medication will be considered a prior offense for future DUI charges.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.