Carrying While Under the Influence

In Minnesota, it is illegal to be carrying while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. The offense can be either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, requiring possible jail and/or a heavy fine, not to mention revocation of the person’s right to carry.

Under Minn. Stat. 624.7142, the carrying while under the influence charge provides that a person may not carry a pistol on or about their clothes or person in a public place under the following circumstances

  1. when the person is under the influence of a controlled substance;
  2. when the person is under the influence of a combination of a controlled substance and/or alcohol;
  3. when the person is knowingly under the influence of any chemical compound or combination of chemical compounds that is listed as a hazardous substance and that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person so as to impair the person’s clearness of intellect or physical control;
  4. when the person is under the influence of alcohol;
  5. when the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.10 or more; or
  6. when the person’s alcohol concentration is less than 0.10, but more than 0.04.

Critical to this charge is what is meant by the phrase carrying “on or about person’s clothes or person.” The obvious answer would be if a person has the pistol on them – i.e. strapped or otherwise in their immediate possession. But what about if it’s in their vicinity? A recent Minnesota Supreme Court case – State v. Prigge – analyzed this question in the context of a DWI arrest. A person was charged with a DWI with a .10 alcohol concentration. During the arrest, the officers made a lawful search of the vehicle and discovered a gun in the center console. The defendant argued that he was not carrying the weapon since he did not immediately possess it at the time of the arrest. Both the district court and Court of Appeals agreed with this argument and dismissed the carrying while under the influence charge. But, the Supreme Court overruled both courts and developed a new point of analysis, holding that a pistol is on or about the person when it is within arms reach of the person.

Any person that violates the provisions 1-5 listed above will face a misdemeanor charge. If the person has a prior conviction for carrying while under the influence, any subsequent offense is a gross misdemeanor. The person’s right to carry is revoked for a period of one year from the date of the conviction. Any violation of provision 6 is a misdemeanor, though, and the permit revocation period is 180 days.

If you are charged with carrying while under the influence, you need a strong defense team. With the recent Supreme Court case, we fully expect State attorneys to include this charge under much more liberal factual scenarios, requiring a carrying while under the influence attorney that knows how to distinguish your case and to fight to avoid both the criminal consequences and loss of your right to carry.