• Street Drug Related Offenses

    Some DWI arrests in Minnesota are the result of driving while allegedly impaired by an illegal drug, like heroin or methamphetamine. You can be charged with being impaired by a drug, but there is also an "automatically impaired" charge for anyone who was using a Schedule I or II controlled substance and submitted to a blood or urine test that spotted it. 



    A DWI charge is not always related to alcohol, but can be charged due to being under the influence of drugs. Any individual operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance can be charged with DWI. The reason is because controlled substances interfere with motor skills, reaction time, and many of the actions that are necessary in the operation of a motor vehicle.


    Controlled substances are drugs that are controlled or regulated by the government. The government enforces the Controlled Substances Act, while Minnesota also enforces controlled substances at its own level by classifying them into five schedules. These schedules list the different types of illegal and prescription drugs. The illegal drugs include cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamines, morphine, amphetamines, opium, and peyote. If you are charged for having any of these substances in your system, you will need the assistance of a St. Paul criminal lawyer to inform you of your rights. Here are examples of the types of drugs that can trigger a DWI charge:

    Schedule I and II Controlled Substances – Any amount of a Schedule I or II drug, except for tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana, will trigger a DWI. This means that a person does not have to be impaired; they only have to show it in their blood or urine. Schedule I and II drugs include cocaine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy or MDMA).

    Hazardous substances – Any substance that affects the brain, nervous system, or muscles. Impairment of these body systems can cause a person to be unable to operate a motor vehicle. Hazardous substances can also include prescription drugs and household items that are used to get a high, such as spray paint. Individuals suspected to be under the influence of a hazardous substance will be subject to taking a urine or blood test to detect it.


    Driving under the influence of drugs and driving under the influence of alcohol carry the same penalties. First time offenders will be charged with Fourth-Degree DWI, which is a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. If charged a second time within ten years, the charge is a Third-Degree DWI, which is a gross misdemeanor with a fine of $3,000 and up to one year in jail. A third offense is a Second-Degree DWI and is also a gross misdemeanor. The fourth offense results in a fine of up to $14,000 and seven years in prison.

    The civil penalties may be slightly different than when someone is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. When under the influence of drugs, there is no blood alcohol concentration and this can have an influence on how long a person loses their license for. First time offenders typically lose their license for 90 days, an offender under 21 will lose their license for 180 days, second time offenders are subject to a one year revocation, third time offenders are subject to a three year revocation, and a fourth time offender is subject to a four year revocation.

    You can work with your St. Paul DWI lawyer to reduce the penalties against you by reducing the charges against you. In some cases, your rights may be violated or something went awry during the arrest process. If something is not right, we can find out and use that in your favor in court.