Question: I heard DWI arrests are declining. Is this this true? What about non-alcohol related DWI arrests?
Answer: While alcohol-related DWI incidents have dropped over the past 10 years in Minnesota, controlled substance-related DWI incidents have increased over the past 30 years.
Controlled substance convictions
• 1990: Five controlled substance-related DWIs
• 1997: 128
• 2007: 659
• 2017: 1,982
We believe that most drivers know to get a sober ride when they had consumed too many alcoholic beverages.
Illicit and some prescription medications may also affect our ability to safely operate a vehicle, even if taken as directed. The term “controlled substances” refers to both of these categories, and part of the rise of drug-related DWIs is due to increased use.
Another factor for the increase in controlled substance arrests are that law enforcement officers are better trained in DWI detection especially with non-alcohol related DWI offenders.
Minnesota has 277 specially trained officers called drug recognition evaluators. Non-certified DRE officers can and do call for the assistance from a DRE officer to assist with a DWI, if needed.
Tips for motorists that are taking prescription medications:
• If you don’t know how a medication will affect your judgment, coordination and reaction time, have someone else drive or wait to take it until you get home.
• Check the warning labels carefully. Does it have one about “operating heavy machinery?” That includes motor vehicles.
• Some medications are fine when taken on their own but may cause impairment when mixed with other medications or alcohol — even a small amount. Learn about the interactions and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, 2900 48th St., NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848; or send an email to: Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.