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Drugged driving charges in Minnesota carry stiff criminal penalties

Minneapolis area drivers are likely aware of the many and significant criminal penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction. Less discussed, however, are the penalties associated with drugged driving.

When many people hear the term drugged driving, illegal drugs likely methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine likely spring to mind. While a driver who is pulled over by a police officer and found to be under the influence of one of these types of illegal drugs will likely face criminal charges, even drivers who take prescription and some over-the-counter drugs may face charges.

In 2013, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that nearly 10 million people "aged 12 and older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs" in the 12 months prior to being surveyed. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that numerous other prescription drugs have been cited as causing or contributing to accidents including drugs commonly prescribed by doctors to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.

In Minnesota, the state has a zero tolerance law related to driving under the influence of drugs for all scheduled and controlled substances, except marijuana. In cases where a driver’s blood or urine test is positive for the existence of one or more drugs, he or she will likely be arrested and face DUID charges.

If convicted of DUID, an individual is likely to face numerous penalties including possible jail time, hefty fines, probation, drug education classes and community service. In cases where a driver refuses to submit to a blood or urine test, he or she is subject to refusal penalties which may include 12 months in jail, fines of $3,000 and driver's license revocation.

If DUID charges stem from a driver's use of valid prescription drugs, an attorney will work to defend against such charges and win a dismissal. Regardless of circumstances, all individuals facing DUID charges would be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney who can work to obtain a dismissal of charges or reduced penalties.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, "DrugFacts: Drugged Driving," June 2, 2015

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "A State-by-State Analysis of
Laws Dealing With Driving Under the Influence of Drugs: Minnesota," June 2, 2015

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