Can You Drive While Using Marijuana in Minnesota?
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Minnesota, new questions have arisen about how it could impact safety on the road. Is it legal to drive while using marijuana? Read on for all the answers you need.
Cannabis Laws in Minnesota
In 2023, Minnesota legalized the possession and use of cannabis for Minnesotans aged 21 and older. However, that doesn’t mean marijuana is a free-for-all now. Minnesota law still regulates how much marijuana you can have, where you can use it, and what you can do while under the influence.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Minnesota
In Minnesota, driving under the influence of marijuana is always illegal. The state's DWI (driving while impaired) laws apply to all drivers, and these laws prohibit driving under the influence of any controlled substance, including marijuana. This means that if a driver is impaired by marijuana to the extent that they cannot drive safely, they can be charged with a DWI.
According to Minnesota statute 169A.20:
“It is a crime for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle, as defined in section 169A.03, subdivision 15, within this state or on any boundary water of this state when …
- the person is under the influence of a controlled substance; [or] …
- the person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance and the person knows or has reason to know that the substance has the capacity to cause impairment; [or] …
- the person is under the influence of cannabis flower, a cannabis product, a lower-potency hemp edible, a hemp-derived consumer product, an artificially derived cannabinoid, or tetrahydrocannabinols [THC].”
As you can see, driving while under the influence of marijuana is thoroughly covered by these regulations. It’s worth noting that no exception is made for medical marijuana, either. Even if a driver is using marijuana for medicinal purposes, driving while under the influence is against the law.
Effects of Marijuana While Driving
Minnesota regulates the use of marijuana for good reason. Marijuana can seriously impair a person’s ability to drive. Common effects of marijuana use include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Divided attention
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Relaxed inhibitions
All of these symptoms will put a driver in grave danger – as well as anyone they share the road with.
How Impairment Is Determined
Determining impairment from marijuana is more complex than with alcohol. Unlike alcohol, where impairment can be measured with a breathalyzer test and a legal blood-alcohol limit, there's no simple roadside test for marijuana impairment. Law enforcement officers rely on field sobriety tests and their observations to determine impairment. If any marijuana is detected in the driver’s system and police officers believe the driver is impaired, they will likely be charged with a DWI.
Legal Consequences of Driving While Impaired
The legal consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana can be severe. The penalties for a marijuana DWI are the same as an alcohol DWI. That may include:
- Jail time
- Loss of license
- Vehicle impoundment
- Increased insurance rates
Additionally, a DWI could result in the driver losing their eligibility for medical marijuana.
Legal Marijuana: A Complicating Factor on Minnesota Roads
While marijuana is legal for adults in Minnesota, driving under its influence is not. Just like any other substance or medication that can impair a person’s ability to drive safely, marijuana must be used responsibly and with great caution.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident involving marijuana, you may be entitled to compensation – and we can help you get it. SiebenCarey is the ONLY law firm in Minnesota with 70 years of experience assisting injury victims. When you work with SiebenCarey, you benefit from:
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