Can You Drive Under the Influence of Marijuana in Minnesota?

Minnesota’s relationship with marijuana is complicated. Medical marijuana has been allowed since 2014, but only under strict circumstances, and it can only be purchased from a dozen licensed dispensaries in the state. Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized for decades. However, recreational marijuana is not technically legal in the state.

Regardless of the legality, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana in Minnesota. Law enforcement officials take impaired driving seriously.

What the state says about driving while impaired

When we look at the latest reporting year of data available from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, we can see statistics on the physical condition of a driver in crashes. In 2018, there were 11 fatal crashes and 216 injury crashes in which a driver had taken illicit drugs (though we do not have the exact number of those impaired by marijuana). There was an additional 248 property damage only crashes under these circumstances.

While there is not yet a breathalyzer test for marijuana, police officers use other forms of testing to make a determination of impairment. They can perform regular field sobriety tests and examine an individual’s physical symptoms (blood pressure, pulse, eye exams, etc.). If a person suspected of being impaired on marijuana causes an accident with injuries or death, police will get a warrant for a blood test to be conducted.

DWI charges in Minnesota are as follows:

  • First offense: Fines of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, and up to 180 days of driver’s license suspension.
  • Second offense: At least 30 days in jail, community service, and up to a one-year license suspension.
  • Third offense: At least 90 days in jail and up to a two-year license suspension.

When it comes to DWI charges involving alcohol in Minnesota, police officers use the blood alcohol level to make a determination of what charges to apply. However, since there is no breath test for marijuana, and there is no legal limit for the drug, any marijuana that is detected will result in the driver being charged with DWI.

If you have marijuana in your possession at the time of a stop

A driver could run into further trouble if they have marijuana in their possession at the time of an arrest.

  • Less than 42.5 grams: they could face $200 in fines and a mandatory drug education class.
  • 5 grams to 10kgs: they could face a fifth-degree felony charge resulting in up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • 10kgs or more: they could face a third-degree felony charge resulting in up to 5 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Driving impaired is never a good idea

While most people understand that driving while impaired by alcohol is dangerous, many people still think that driving after using marijuana is okay. Most studies have shown that driving while impaired by marijuana does slow down a person’s reaction times and judgment according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They also say that the drug can impair a person’s coordination, distort their perception, lead to memory loss, and problems problem-solving. The risk of serious accidents increases when marijuana is used in combination with alcohol.