In part one of this series, we discussed the basic facts for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID), including statistics and the types of drugs being used in DUID offenses. Now, in part two, we examine the criminal and civil laws and penalties for DUID.
Criminal Laws and Penalties
Controlled substances are drugs regulated, or controlled by, the government. At the federal level, the DEA enforces the Controlled Substances Act. At the state level, Minnesota law also lists controlled substances categorized by five schedules, which can be found by clicking here. This list includes illegal and prescription drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, amphetamines, morphine, codeine, peyote, and opium.
Regarding DUID, Minnesota criminal law prohibits driving, operating or simply just being in physical control of any motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of a controlled substance are subject to a blood or urine test to detect the presence of controlled substances. Refusal to take a test is also a crime.
Schedule I & II Controlled Substances
Any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance or even a metabolite of said substance, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols triggers a DWI in Minnesota. This means that actual impairment is not a requirement for DWI. All that is necessary is that your blood or urine test comes back positive for a Schedule I or II controlled substance or even a metabolite, as long as it is not marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols. Some examples of Schedule I and II controlled substances are cocaine, opium, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (better known as MDMA or ecstasy).
In Minnesota, it is also unlawful for a person to knowingly be “under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle”. Hazardous substances generally include prescription drugs and common household items used to get high. Similarly, those suspected of driving under the influence of a hazardous substance are subject to a blood or urine test to detect the substance. Refusal to take one of those tests is also a DWI.
Criminally, driving under the influence of a controlled substance carries the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. First-time offenders face a fourth degree DWI, which is a misdemeanor charge, including a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second driving under the influence of drugs offense within ten years is considered a third degree DWI, which is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A third driving while under the influence of drugs crime within ten years is a second degree DWI, which is also a gross misdemeanor. A fourth DUID offense within ten years is a felony, which includes a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine. A further breakdown of first to fourth degree DWI penalties can be found on our website by clicking here.
Unlike driving while under the influence of alcohol, there is not a blood alcohol content (BAC) associated with DUID that can impact the amount of time you will lose your license. DUIDs still, however, trigger a driver’s license revocation. The penalties are the same as DWI just without the BAC distinctions. Therefore, a DUID first-time offender will lose their license for 90 days; and a first-timer under the age of 21 will have a 180-day revocation period. A second-time offender will be subject to a one-year revocation period; a third-timer three years; a fourth-timer four years; and five DUIDs will trigger a six year loss of license. A further discussion of license revocations and suspensions can be found by clicking here.
As we continue to navigate the waters of driving under the influence of drugs/controlled substances, we will discuss litigating DUID cases in part three of this series. This will include a discussion about affirmative defenses, retesting blood and urine samples, and expert testimony. DUID is serious crime that experienced Minnesota Criminal Attorneys are trained to handle. If you would like a free consultation, please contact the Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Kans Law Firm, LLC.