When people talk about impaired driving in Minnesota, they typically imagine motorists under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving has historically been a major safety risk and remains a huge concern on modern roads. However, impaired driving statutes in Minnesota do not just prohibit the use of a significant amount of alcohol before driving. The laws also apply to those who operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Both illegal drugs prohibited by law and prescription drugs dispensed by a pharmacist could lead to drugged driving collisions or arrests in Minnesota. The number of drugged driving cases has increased by a shocking degree in recent years. People are at a much higher risk of drugged driving charges now than they were a few years ago as a result of increased enforcement efforts.
What does the data show?
Modern testing has made it easier than ever before for police officers to determine whether motorists have illegal drugs or prescription medications that can impair their judgment and/or response times in their systems. Yet an increased focus on drugged driving as a law enforcement priority may also mean that officers see signs of impairment when there really aren’t any.
The number of motorists arrested for such infractions in recent years has increased precipitously. According to data provided by the state. Between 2013 and 2022, drugged driving arrests in Minnesota have increased significantly. From 2013 and 2017, there were 8,069 drugged driving arrests. There were 15,810 arrests for the same type of offense between 2018 and 2022. That’s a 96% increase!
Researchers also noted that there has been an increase in drunk driving arrests as well. There are multiple factors likely contributing to that increase, including less social stigma around casual drug use, law enforcement priorities and an overall increase in riskier driving behaviors reported in recent years.
Ultimately, tracking trends in arrests can help people understand what the police may watch for more carefully in their communities and/or help them begin to develop solid a defense strategy after an arrest occurs.