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DWI and Controlled Substances

Although DWI charges are commonly associated with alcohol, a person can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence if he or she has consumed a controlled substance, including a prescribed medication. Drugged driving is becoming a more common offense throughout the country, and law enforcement officers are aggressive about stopping those impaired drivers.

In Minnesota, drugged driving and drunk driving charges carry some of the same criminal and administrative penalties, which could include jail time, expensive fines, vehicle forfeiture, suspended driver's license and more. If you are facing charged for DWI of a controlled substance, a skilled and experienced attorney can help you make the right decision in your case.

Apple Valley DWI with Controlled Substances Defense Attorney

Former prosecutor James Blumberg has the knowledge and experience you need to help fight your DWI charges. As an Apple Valley drugged driving defense attorney, James has handled some of the most complex cases. He understands the laws and how to build a solid defense against even the toughest accusations.

James Blumberg Law represents clients throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including Dakota County, Hennepin County, Ramsey County and Anoka County. Call (952) 431-7758 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney. He can work one-on-one with you to ensure your rights are represented at an affordable rate.


Information About DWI with a Controlled Substance


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What is Drugged Driving?

It is a crime in Minnesota for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle when he or she is under the influence of a controlled substance, according to Minnesota Statute 169A.20.

When a person is under the influence of alcohol, law enforcement officers rely on information from the person's alcohol concentration to know if he or she is impaired. Although there is no numerical data that can indicate if a person is intoxicated by a controlled substance, the statute explains a person can be charged with a DWI if he or she has any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol.

Some common substances that can be involved in drugged driving cases include:

  • Heroin;
  • Cocaine;
  • Morphine;
  • Amphetamines;
  • Methamphetamines;
  • LSD; and
  • Phencyclidine or angel dust.

Drugged driving charges can be complicated because these substances can remain in a person's system for days or sometimes even longer. This means a driver could face DWI charges even after the substance’s physiological effects have passed. A person could think he or she was not impaired, but law enforcement may see it differently.

This often is considered a “per se” DWI because a person technically is considered impaired under the law, regardless of his or her faculties. Marijuana is excluded from this requirement, but being under the influence of weed or cannabis still could lead to drugged driving charges.

Drug recognition experts often are used in these instances to help determine if a person is under the influence of a controlled substance that falls into any schedule. These experts are law enforcement officers who have received special training in field sobriety testing and certain protocols used to detect drug impairment and accurately determine the category of drugs causing such impairment.


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Implied Consent Laws for DWI with a Controlled Substances

DWI stops often involve the use of a breath test to determine if a driver is impaired by alcohol and if so by how much. However, breath tests cannot measure if a person is under the influence of a controlled substance. In these instances, law enforcement officers can request a chemical test of a person's blood or urine.

According to Minnesota Statute 169A.20, it is a crime to refuse a chemical test of a person's blood, breath or urine. Minnesota is an implied consent state which means when a person gets behind the wheel or is in control of a vehicle, he or she agrees to a chemical test when used to determine if he or she is intoxicated.

The officer would choose whether the test will be of the person’s blood, or urine. If the person is unconscious, consent is deemed not to have been withdrawn, and the chemical test may be administered. A person who refuses a blood or urine test must be offered another type of test.

The arresting officer must read the implied consent advisory statement to the person, which explains the testing is mandatory and that a refusal is a crime. It also explains that the person has the right to consult an attorney before taking the test.

If the evidentiary test is requested without the advisory being given, the person may be criminally charged and prosecuted following test failure or refusal, but the various administrative sanctions cannot be applied.

If the test was refused, the commissioner of public safety can revoke the person's license or permit to drive, even if a test was obtained after the person refused to submit to testing. A person with no prior impaired driving incidents within the past 10 years could lose his or her license for not less than one year.


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Criminal Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Generally, the criminal penalties for drugged driving in Minnesota are the same as those for driving under the influence of alcohol. For instance, if a person is arrested for his or her first DWI offense for being under the influence of a controlled substance, it likely would be a fourth-degree DWI and a misdemeanor offense. This could include a maximum of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

If a person is arrested for his or her second drugged driving offense within 10 years, without any other aggravating factors involved, it would be considered a third-degree DWI and a gross misdemeanor. This could carry up to one year in jail, a $3,000 fine or both.

A third drugged driving charge within 10 years also would be considered a gross misdemeanor, but it would be a second-degree DWI, assuming no other aggravating factors are involved. This would have the same criminal penalties as a second offense.

A fourth drugged driving offense within 10 years would be a felony offense, or a first-degree DWI. According to Minnesota Statute 169A.24, a person found guilty of a felony DWI offense could face up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $14,000 or both.


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Administrative Repercussions for Drugged Driving in Minnesota

In a DWI case involving alcohol intoxication, administrative penalties largely are determined by the person's alcohol concentration. However, that is not an option in cases where a person is under the influence of a controlled substance. A driver still could face losing his or her driving privileges.

A drugged driving first-time offender could lose his or her license for 90 days, and a second offense could mean losing driving privileges for up to one year. If a person is charged with a third offense, his or her license could be suspended for three years. A fourth offense could mean a four-year suspension.

Other administrative penalties that could be enforced depending on the circumstances of the case include:

  • Installation of an ignition interlock device;
  • License plates impounded;
  • Vehicle forfeited;
  • License cancellation; and
  • Drug and alcohol treatment.

All alcohol-related loss of driving privileges requires a $680 reinstatement fee, DWI knowledge test, driver’s license application with fees and chemical health assessment.


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James Blumberg Law - A Drugged Driving Defense Lawyer in Dakota County

If you have been charged with a DWI with a controlled substance, contact Apple Valley drugged driving defense attorney James Blumberg. James and his legal team can help you challenge your charges while fighting for a favorable outcome. Your future is important, and James Blumberg Law can help you protect it. Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a free initial consultation today. 

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James L. Blumberg

Attorney James L. Blumberg

As a former prosecutor in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, James Blumberg has experience on both sides of the criminal courtroom. He knows how to fight to get charges reduced or dismissed for clients in the Twin Cities area.

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