Minnesota's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s drugged driving law is located at Minnesota Statutes Annotated Section 169A.20. The law states that a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, or knowingly under the influence of any hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle, or “when the person’s body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols.”

Minnesota has what is known as a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition against drugged driving if the driver, while driving, has any controlled substance in his or her body (other than marijuana). That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that any prohibited drug (other than marijuana) even if it’s just a trace is in the driver's body while the driver is operating the vehicle. Other than the per se/zero tolerance rule, an arrest can be triggered by a driver impaired by drugs although actual evidence of impaired driving is not essential as long as the police officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is on something while behind the wheel.

What drugs are prohibited?

Minnesota’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of any hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle, or any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols. A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website. There is an affirmative defense to the zero tolerance provision [§169A.20(7)] if the defendant can show that the controlled substance(s) was being used pursuant to a valid prescription.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Minnesota?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Minnesota will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Minnesota’s DUI laws.

Do Minnesota drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood and urine testing. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver.

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