While most people associate a DWI with driving while intoxicated by alcohol, the acronym actually stands for “driving while impaired” under Minnesota law. That means impaired by alcohol or drugs (legal or not).
In fact, the number of arrests for drugged driving in Minnesota increased by a whopping 96% from 2018 to 2022 compared to the prior four years. Nearly 16,000 people were arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of some type of drug in the 2018 to 2022 period.
Law enforcement agencies have been cracking down on getting drugged drivers off the road, so don’t expect that trend to reverse any time soon. In fact, the numbers have risen this year.
It doesn’t matter whether the drug is illegal, prescribed or over-the-counter
Controlled substances that are considered Schedule I and II drugs like meth and cocaine and prescription drugs like oxycodone (whether being used legally or not) are common culprits behind DWI arrests. However, any drug that causes impairment can result in a DWI. As we head into cold and flu season, it’s crucial to remember that many over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness – especially when someone is also consuming alcohol.
Law enforcement officials have been cautioning Minnesotans since recreational marijuana became legal earlier this year that it’s not legal to drive under the influence of it. While it can take more time to test a driver to determine whether they have drugs in their system, how much and what kind, don’t assume that they’ll be out of your system before you’re tested. A lot of them (like THC, which is in marijuana) can stay in there for days.
Depending on what degree DWI charge you’re facing, you could be looking at jail time, the loss of your driver’s license and hefty fines and other costs. It’s always smart to have legal guidance to protect your rights and present your case.