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.

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