Possession in a Motor Vehicle

While state law in Minnesota defines a small amount in regards to marijuana as meaning 42.5 grams or less for most criminal cases, a significantly smaller amount in a person’s automobile can result in criminal charges. In addition to possible fines and jail time, alleged offenders convicted of these crimes can face additional penalties that include the loss of driving privileges, increased insurance rates, and a criminal record.

State law does provide exceptions for the trunk area—or another area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver or passengers if the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk—but this is commonly referred to as the “Open Bottle Marijuana” law because it was enacted largely to deter people from smoking cannabis while driving. Police officers in these cases may also file criminal charges for other offenses against alleged offenders that can lead to additional penalties.

Minnesota Possession of Marijuana Lawyer

If you were recently arrested in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for allegedly possessing cannabis in your motor vehicle, make sure that you discuss your options with legal counsel before entering into any plea agreement with a prosecutor. James Blumberg Law defends clients from Burnsville, Bloomington, St. Cloud, Minnetonka, Lakeville, Eagan, and many surrounding areas.

Apple Valley criminal defense attorney James Blumberg is a former prosecutor who understands how these cases are handled and uses that knowledge to get the most favorable outcomes for alleged offenders throughout Dakota County, Carver County, Anoka County, Washington County, Scott County, Ramsey County, and Hennepin County. Call (952) 431-7758 or complete an online contact form right now to have out lawyer review your case during a free consultation.

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Marijuana in Motor Vehicle Charges in Dakota County

Subdivision 3 of Minnesota Statute § 152.027 establishes that an owner of a private motor vehicle or the driver of a motor vehicle if the owner is not present who possesses or knowingly keeps or allows more than 1.4 grams of marijuana to be kept within the area of the vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passengers can be charged with the misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle. Utility or glove compartments are deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.

A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. The court will also notify the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which can result in an alleged offender’s driver’s license being revoked for up to 30 days.

Possession of more significant amounts can lead to alleged offenders being charged with more serious offenses. These may include:

  • More Than 42.5 Grams (1.499143 Ounces), But Less Than 10 Kilograms (352.74 Ounces) — Controlled Substance Crime in the Fifth Degree (Minnesota Statute § 152.025) punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000;
  • 10 Kilograms or More, But Less Than 50 Kilograms (1763.7 Ounces) — Controlled Substance Crime in the Third Degree (Minnesota Statute § 152.023) punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000;
  • 50 Kilograms or More, But Less Than 100 Kilograms (3,527.4 Ounces) — Controlled Substance Crime in the Second Degree (Minnesota Statute § 152.022) punishable by up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000; and
  • 100 Kilograms or More — Controlled Substance Crime in the First Degree (Minnesota Statute § 152.021) punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million.

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Additional Charges Related to Marijuana Possession in a Motor Vehicle in Apple Valley

In some cases, alleged offenders arrested for possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle may be charged with additional criminal offenses. Depending on how a motorist acts or what an officer finds upon searching an automobile, people may also be charged with one of the following offenses:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana — If a police officer suspects that a driver is impaired by cannabis, he or she may request that the motorist submit to a blood or urine test. Minnesota does not have “per se” level of intoxication for marijuana, so a positive test does not automatically mean an alleged offender will be convicted of “drugged driving.” If authorities do file these charges, they will usually argue that the driver failed field sobriety tests and exhibited signs of impairment. A marijuana-related DUI is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia — When police search an alleged offender’s vehicle, they could file charges for drug paraphernalia if they also find any items primarily intended or designed for use in inhaling marijuana. Examples of paraphernalia may include, but are not limited to pipes, roach clips, bongs, or wired cigarette papers. Possession of drug paraphernalia is generally a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300, but if an alleged offender is charged with delivering drug paraphernalia or knowingly or intentionally possessing drug paraphernalia for delivery, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.

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Collateral Consequences of a Marijuana Conviction

The initial arrest and conviction are not the end of the story for most defendants. In fact, a conviction for possessing marijuana in a motor vehicle might haunt the defendant for the rest of his or her life. Collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction include:

  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Difficulty obtaining student loans
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Possible inability to qualify for government assistance
  • Being denied entrance into some foreign countries
  • Suspension of your driver’s license

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Additional Resources

Minnesota Handbook on Motor Vehicles: Stops, Warrantless Searches, Seizures — Former Tenth Judicial District judge Alan F. Pendleton published this guide largely to provide judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officers with a comprehensive reference guide to the laws governing motor vehicle stops—including the seven exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement under which warrantless searches of motor vehicles may be justified. Section 4.2 of the handbook covers possession of marijuana, and you can learn more about what can be searched. You will note that the guide states that most anything can be searched so long as an officer has probable cause.

When can police search your car? | Flex Your Rights — Flex Your Rights (Flex) is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit civil liberties organization that produces know-your-rights media content. This section of the website provides tips for dealing with police during traffic stops. You can watch videos and read articles related to the topic.

Minnesota Prevention Resource Center — Follow the link provided to access The Minnesota Prevention Resource Center. The organization is dedicated to reducing problems resulting from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

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Apple Valley Possession in a Motor Vehicle Attorney | Dakota County, Minnesota

Were you arrested in the Twin Cities for alleged possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle? James Blumberg Law fights to get the most favorable outcomes for people arrested on marijuana charges.

James Blumberg is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Apple Valley who also serves such surrounding areas as Maple Grove, Plymouth, Woodbury, Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, and Eden Prairie. He will provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (952) 431-7758 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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