Minnesota legalized the sale and possession of marijuana last month, but many drivers still face the possibility of getting pulled over for a minor violation.
But new laws put a damper on those chances, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says they have found a way to reduce the chances of an arrest and potentially get you off the hook.
In a memo sent to drivers last week, DPS wrote that a minor DUI charge can result in a suspended license for up to one year, a $300 fine and a suspended driver’s license for five years.
Drivers who are caught with small amounts of marijuana in their vehicles can also face up to a $500 fine and four points on their license.
They can also lose their license for six months.
The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
“The penalties are going to be significantly lower than what they would be for a DUI, and if you get a minor offense that is under the radar, that is the least likely to get you arrested,” said Eric Todt, executive director of the MinnPost.
“The only people who will be getting arrested for a low-level minor offense are those that are on the road.
The people who get pulled over are the people that are driving drunk.”DPS officials have also found that drivers who have a valid medical marijuana card can also be charged with a minor misdemeanor.”
If a driver had an alcohol or drug violation, they can get arrested for it, too,” Todgson said.
“That’s not the intent, but that is what the policy is for medical marijuana, to keep them off the road.”
The department says that the legislation would save the state millions in licensing fees.
The department estimates that a one-time fee of $400 for a driver will save the department more than $250,000 in licensing costs annually.
If you have a medical marijuana prescription or are an adult who has had a medical cannabis-related seizure, you can have the charge dismissed, DPS said.
If a minor driving under the influence or a non-medical marijuana driver is cited, a driver who has a valid Minnesota driver’s licence can be arrested for up, three points on that license, and up to three months in jail, DPS says.
If the driver’s vehicle has a defective or expired tag, they will be charged $500.
A second citation for that offense would be issued for a maximum $1,500 fine.
In some cases, drivers could also be cited for violating the vehicle code.
Those citations can result to fines ranging from $1 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the offense.
Todt says the DPS is not recommending that people under the age of 21 be driving.
If they are, he said, the department will help them through a legal process to get them out of the state.TODGSON: Drivers have a right to a free and fair trial.
This is the right to be heard.