Senate passes a hodgepodge of DWI and drug laws

The Senate passed a bill this week containing provisions that update Minnesota drug and DWI laws.

The bill adds several new drugs to the state schedule of controlled substances, which is a ranked classification of drugs’ medicinal use and potential for addiction or abuse. The bill also created a crime for minors to possess or sell kratom, an opioid-like substance that’s sold in health food and herbal medicine stores. Kratom has been the subject of some controversy lately, but is not included on the federal drug schedule.

The bill also expands the definition of “intoxicating substance” in DWI law, following a Supreme Court decision that excluded inhalants, such as DFE (an ingredient in air-compressed dust cleaning products), and the tragic death of three Minnesotans in Wisconsin, after their car was hit head-on by a driver who had been drinking and using inhalants.

Additional measures were added on the floor by amendment. One provision allows people who have DWI convictions to opt in to ignition interlock to avoid forfeiture of their vehicle. The other exempts people with previous DWI convictions from having to re-take a driver’s license exam before having their license is reinstated. Officials from the Department of Public Safety have noted the re-examination is often unnecessary, and is a poor use of resources.

This legislation passed by a vote of 62-4 and will next be considered on the House floor. (SF 2578)