MINNESOTA'S DWI TASK FORCE: WORKING TO INCREASE PUBLIC SAFETY ON OUR ROADS
The Minnesota DWI Task Force helped author, and strongly support, SF 2479 and HF 2766.
In October, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided State v. Carson, which overturned the DWI conviction of a woman who was driving under the influence of dust-off paint thinner. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that dust-off, or 1,1-difluoroethane (DFE), which is found in refrigerant-based propellant used for cleaning electronic equipment, was not a “hazardous substance” within the meaning of DWI statutes. The Supreme Court indicated that DFE is not on OSHA's list of hazardous substances, which is referenced in Minn. Stat. 169A.20, subd. 1(3). The DWI Task Force is seeking to introduce legislation that changes this statute by removing the reference to hazardous substances and severing the ties to OSHA's laws, which are geared towards workplace safety. In its place, the Task Force is proposing a definition of "intoxicating" substances that focuses on drugs and chemicals that cause impairment and render a person unsafe to operate a motor vehicle. The bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee (as amended into SF 2578), and been laid over for possible inclusion into the House omnibus bill.
Past Successful Legislative Initiatives:
**2017 -- HF 2364 and SF 2375, which responded to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota and achieved five things: (1) Amended Minnesota's implied consent laws, 169A.51-53, to only reference breath tests, which is consistent with the Birchfield decision; (2) Criminalized refusal to comply with the execution of a search warrant, which is consistent with the refusal laws for breath test cases but codified under proper constitutional authority; (3) Provides for the revocation of an offender's driver's license for a failed test or refusal to comply with a search warrant, which is consistent with the consequences in a breath test case; (4) Extended the amount of time an offender has to challenge a license revocation from 30 to 60 days; and (5) Allows for a prescription drug affirmative defense in license revocation hearings. Here is a link to a final engrossment of the bill.
**2015 -- HF 1255 and SF 1073, which lowered the enhancement level of gross misdemeanor DWIs from an alcohol concentration of .20 to .16.