Public Service Announcement: Minnesota Launching Pilot Project to Study Oral Tests for Marijuana and Other Drugs

driver taking breathalyzer testWhen legislators voted to legalize cannabis use in Minnesota, they created a significant challenge for law enforcement officers. There is currently no widely accepted roadside test for marijuana and other drugs like there is for alcohol.

However, this challenge was anticipated, and the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety is already working to begin solving the problem. Minnesota law enforcement officers are set to start using new oral tests as part of a pilot project to detect drivers impaired by drugs. Beginning next month, selected officers will be equipped with two types of roadside tests aimed at identifying impairment from substances like THC, opioids, and methamphetamine.

This initiative, overseen by the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, was authorized by the state legislature. Mike Hanson, the Director of the Office of Traffic Safety, emphasized the need to expand the current tools available for detecting drug impairment, citing technological advancements as a key driver of this initiative.

The takeaway for drivers is clear: Driving while intoxicated by drugs, including cannabis, is against the law and the police are taking steps to safeguard Minnesota roads and the public from this reckless behavior.

Understanding the New Testing Devices

The two devices included in the pilot project are the SoToxa Oral Fluid Mobile Analyzer and the Dräger DrugTest 5000. Both devices, which have been used in other states and selected after an extensive review process, are designed to detect several classes of drugs in a person’s saliva within minutes. According to Abbott, the healthcare company producing SoToxa, the device can identify substances like THC, cocaine, and opioids, among others.

The Pilot Project and Its Implications

Highly trained drug recognition evaluators will be the primary users of these tests. Importantly, the tests will be voluntary, and the results will not be permissible in court or as probable cause for an arrest. Instead, the focus is on data collection, as officers cannot view the results during traffic stops.

The pilot project, which is expected to last about a year, aims to gather data on the effectiveness of these tests and identify any emerging trends. This information will be compiled in a report to the state legislature by February 2025, potentially influencing future law changes regarding their use in evidence collection.

Concerns and Challenges

Jim Stuart, Executive Director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, welcomed the project but expressed concerns about taking officers off the street for certification, especially amid recruitment and retention challenges. However, he acknowledged the critical need for effective tools to address the growing issue of drug-impaired driving.

Comparisons to the early days of breathalyzers for alcohol detection were drawn by Minnesota State Patrol Chief Col. Matt Langer, highlighting the potential for these devices to become trusted tools in law enforcement. There is widespread trust in breathalyzers, despite questions many people had about their accuracy when they were first implemented.

The pilot project is seen as a step towards addressing the increasing problem of drug-related impaired driving, which has seen a significant rise in recent years.

Looking Ahead

By the end of the year, law enforcement groups in Minnesota hope to have concrete data to present to lawmakers, underlining the need for additional tests and legal adaptations for their use. The pilot project in Minnesota follows the footsteps of other states, like Michigan, where similar tests have been conducted. These earlier pilot projects revealed interesting insights into drug use patterns among drivers.

This new initiative by Minnesota law enforcement marks a crucial step in tackling drug-impaired driving. As the state navigates the complexities of enforcing laws post-marijuana legalization, these oral tests represent a forward-thinking approach to ensuring road safety and responsible driving in our communities.

Can Minnesota Drivers Be Held Liable for Wearing Earbuds or AirPods While Driving?

woman using airpods while drivingPeople do all kinds of activities while listening to music through their AirPods or earbuds. The problem is that music can be distracting, especially when engaging in activities that require higher levels of focus, like driving.

While drivers may prefer to listen to music through their earbuds instead of their car stereos, this is a highly dangerous activity that can result in severe car crashes.

TSR Injury Law’s experienced Minneapolis car accident lawyers discuss Minnesota’s state law on using headphones while driving, the dangers of this activity, and liability for collisions that may occur. We have been assisting crash victims in Minnesota for decades, recovering millions on their behalf.

There are no upfront fees when you hire our services. Call (612) TSR-TIME.

Is It Legal To Use Earbuds or AirPods While Driving in Minnesota?

Minnesota law is quite clear on the use of headphones or earphones while driving:

It is illegal to wear headphones or earphones on or in both ears to listen to broadcasts or reproductions, such as music or podcasts, from sound-producing or transmitting devices.

However, the law does make some exceptions:

  • Minnesota does not prohibit the use of hearing aids for individuals who need them.
  • Firefighters are allowed to use a communication headset while operating a fire department emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency.
  • Emergency medical services personnel can also use a communication headset while operating an ambulance.

The bottom line is you can use a single earpiece, but using headphones or earphones in both ears for entertainment purposes while driving is against the law.

Why Driving While Using Earbuds or AirPods Is Dangerous

Headphones create a distraction for drivers, and distractions can make drivers much more likely to cause a collision that could result in significant injuries.

Ford Study on Wearing Headphones While Driving

In 2021, Ford Motor Company did a study about how wearing headphones affects drivers’ spatial recognition. Disrupting your spatial recognition behind the wheel could impair your ability to respond to audio cues, like sirens, horns or pedestrians calling out.

Ford used an app that played 8D spatial audio and displayed a virtual-reality street with sound cues that participants were asked to identify. For instance, study participants would be asked if they heard an ambulance approaching them from behind.

The 2,000 participants in the study were divided into two groups: one group wore headphones that played music, and another did not.

The study revealed that individuals who wore headphones while driving and listening to music were, on average, 4.2 seconds slower in recognizing and responding to auditory cues compared to those without headphones. This delay in reaction time could be the difference between avoiding a crash and not.

Risks of Using AirPods or Earbuds Behind the Wheel

Ford’s study serves as a compelling reminder of the importance of maintaining full awareness while driving and refraining from potentially hazardous distractions like headphones.

When headphones are in your ears, you are less likely to hear audio cues, such as horns honking, police car sirens and various other traffic sounds. In addition, headphones can also be a manual distraction. For example, you may take your eyes off the road to change songs or podcasts on your phone. Often, people may take one or both hands off the wheel to do this.

Liability for a Collision Caused by a Driver Who Was Using Earbuds or AirPods

If you were injured in a crash and you think the driver was wearing headphones in both ears at the time of the collision, he or she is more likely to be liable for damages. This is not only a violation of Minnesota law, but also dangerous behavior.

Crash victims must provide evidence of the other driver’s negligence to establish liability. You may be wondering what evidence there could be, short of a picture or video of the driver in the moments before the crash.

However, you may not need to prove the other driver was distracted. You just need to show the driver did something negligent behind the wheel, such as drifting into your lane of traffic and hitting your vehicle or rear-ending you when you were stopped at a red light.

The experienced lawyers at our firm have helped many crash victims establish liability for damages. We know how to investigate collisions to determine what happened and explain how the incident could have been prevented. We also know how to preserve evidence that may be vital to the success of your compensation claim.

Injured by a Distracted Driver in Minnesota? Call TSR Today

If a distracted driver has caused you harm, remember that you have the legal right to seek compensation for the losses you have endured. At TSR Injury Law, our team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to guide you through every step of the legal journey.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us today. Your well-being and pursuit of justice are our top priorities, and we are here to support you during this challenging time.

Call to schedule your free legal consultation: (612) TSR-TIME.

Can I File a Minneapolis Slip-and-Fall Claim if There Was a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign?

yellow sign warning of wet floorProperty owners may be able to avoid liability for a slip-and-fall injury if they can prove the victim was adequately warned about the danger. For example, putting out a “wet floor” sign could be seen as a reasonable step for warning about a spill or a recently mopped floor.

However, you should not assume there is no way to file a slip-and-fall claim if there was a “wet floor” sign at the scene. You may have had a hard time seeing the sign, or it may have only warned about part of the danger.

TSR Injury Law’s experienced Minneapolis slip-and-fall attorneys explain how the presence of a “wet floor” sign can affect a Minnesota slip-and-fall claim.

Schedule a free legal consultation today. No upfront costs. Call (612) TSR-TIME.

Are Property Owners Required to Put Out ‘Wet Floor’ Signs?

The owners of retail stores and other commercial establishments have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to help prevent visitors from getting injured while on the property. There are various examples of reasonable actions property owners can take to accomplish this goal, such as:

  • Routinely inspecting the property to search for possible hazardous conditions
  • Removing merchandise and other objects obstructing areas where customers and other visitors commonly walk
  • Putting out a “wet floor” sign if there is a spill, an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice, or the floors were recently mopped and are likely to be slippery

Putting out a “wet floor” sign is not the only way to warn people about a potential danger. For example, property owners could use orange cones or rope the area off to prevent people from getting closer to the wet or slippery floor.

A warning might not be necessary if the property owner takes immediate steps to resolve the problem, such as drying up the wet area of the floor.

How Does the Presence of a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign Affect a Slip-and-fall Case?

It is important to note that a “wet floor” sign is not a one-size-fits-all solution to reducing the risk of a slip-and-fall injury. Other factors could come into play that could mean the property owner still bears liability for the accident, such as:

  • It was unreasonable to expect an average person would be able to see the sign. If the area was poorly lit, a visitor might not be able to see the sign.
  • If a sign was poorly placed, such as if it were posted a significant distance away from the wet or slippery area. Visitors may not understand what area the sign is referring to.
  • The property owner left the “wet floor” sign out for a long time without cleaning up the spill or drying the floor to make it safe for visitors to walk on.
  • The sign was put out while your back was turned and you were not made aware the sign had been posted.
  • The sign was put in a heavily trafficked area where you had to walk, such as to exit the store or go to the cash register to buy something.
  • There was another problem that contributed to your fall, such as broken glass or some other object or spilled goods that presented a tripping hazard.

Partial Fault for a Minnesota Slip-and-fall Injury

It may be difficult for slip-and-fall victims to avoid any liability for their injuries if the property owner had posted a “wet floor” sign or a similar type of warning. The at-fault party can argue you should have taken reasonable steps to avoid the area. In Minnesota, you can be up to 50 percent at fault, however, and still recover compensation, so partial fault does not always eliminate legal options.

Liability for a slip and fall is going to be based on the evidence presented. That is why victims should contact a licensed attorney to discuss whether they may have a case.

You can be sure the property owner is going to dispute liability and continue to reemphasize the presence of the “wet floor” sign. Even if you could not see the sign or it was badly placed, you are going to need evidence to prove your claim.

Slip-and-fall cases can be difficult to prove, and evidence can get lost if you do not act fast. That is why contacting a lawyer right away is so important. Even if you are unsure if you have a case, it does not hurt or cost you anything to call to learn more about possible legal options. At TSR, we are experienced at quickly preserving evidence and determining how liable parties breached their duty of care.

Call TSR Injury Law for Legal Assistance After a Minneapolis Slip-and-fall Claim

Slip-and-fall injuries can affect you for a significant amount of time, even if you do not break a bone. At TSR Injury Law, we have been helping injured victims for many years, so we know how difficult the aftermath of an injury can be.

Our law firm has obtained more than $1 billion in compensation on behalf of our clients, and our services are provided at no upfront cost to you.

Call for legal assistance. Your case review is completely free. Phone: (612) TSR-TIME.