Law enforcement officers have been arresting impaired drivers in record numbers, with over 1,000 people convicted in Minnesota since 2013, according to Fox 9 News.
A loophole has been found in Minnesota law affecting the fate of those accused of drugged driving. These cases differ from those dealing with alcohol – which are decided based on whether or not the driver is above the legal blood alcohol content limit of .08 – in that there is no threshold to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs.
To get a conviction, prosecutors must use sobriety test results and dash-cam videos to demonstrate that the accused party was in fact under the influence. Yet, the real difficulty lies in the way Minnesota law views drugged driving.
The state of Minnesota has a specific list of substances that, when found in a person’s system, can incur a DWI charge. If the drug found in the driver’s system is not on that list, they cannot be charged for driving while intoxicated, regardless of any other evidence to the contrary.
Drugs not listed include certain prescription drugs, as well as cough syrup. Though these drugs can have function impairing side effects, a person operating a motor vehicle cannot be charged with DWI if using or abusing them.
Other states, such as the state of California, have bypassed this loophole by citing that the use of any drug that causes impairment while operating a motor vehicle is grounds for a DWI.
As more attention is drawn to the issue will Minnesota lawmakers change the current laws regarding drugged driving? Only time will tell. Until then, drugged driving convictions will likely remain stagnant as the number of impaired drivers continues to rise.