How Stearns County Deals With Marijuana Impaired Drivers
Recreational marijuana became legal in Minnesota August 1st. Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka joined me on WJON to discuss what, if anything has changed. He says they have seen limited changes in the amount of marijuana issues since the law change which he says is a "good thing". Soyka says they did have situations where people have had marijuana at quarry park but weren't smoking it therefore no arrests were made.
Soyka says if officers pull someone over and smell marijuana coming from the vehicle they would be looking for signs of impairment from the driver. He says it is now legal to transport marijuana under 2 ounces but it isn't legal to be under the influence of marijuana while driving. He says if marijuana impaired driving is suspected there is no breath test but instead a blood or urine test would be conducted. Soyka says they can do field sobriety tests for marijuana at the scene like they do with alcohol. He says he'd been told there is a company working on a breathalyzer type test for marijuana but nothing is available in the United States for that yet.
Soyka says their agency has two drug recognition expert officers who can get to the scene and help determine impairment. He says if impaired marijuana use is suspected the person would then need to be transported to a location where a blood test or urine test can be done. Soyka says this will be more time consuming for officers and the people involved.
Soyka also discussed safe driving in construction zones and school resource officers. He says they have 3 officers placed in schools in the county and they have chosen to continue to keep those officers in the schools despite the law change and need for clarification. He says after meeting with school officials they felt comfortable keeping those officers in those schools.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka it is available below.