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Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle

What is a Small Amount of Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle in Minnesota?

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In Minnesota, even though a “small amount of [plant-form] marijuana” (42.5 grams or less) is a petty misdemeanor; if in a car it’s a misdemeanor crime.  This is “Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle.”

Sometimes police write it up as “small amount of marijuana in a motor vehicle.”  But years ago, police wrote on the citation “open bottle – marijuana.” Same idea.

The Minnesota Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle statute

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Minnesota Statutes 152.027 (2018), Subd. 3.

“Possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person is the owner of a private motor vehicle, or is the driver of the motor vehicle if the owner is not present, and possesses on the person, or knowingly keeps or allows to be kept within the area of the vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passengers, more than 1.4 grams of marijuana. This area of the vehicle does not include the trunk of the motor vehicle if the vehicle is equipped with a trunk, or another area of the vehicle not normally occupied by the driver or passengers if the vehicle is not equipped with a trunk. A utility or glove compartment is deemed to be within the area occupied by the driver and passengers.”

Compared to other marijuana crimes

Marijuana wax possession:  A prosecutor can charge 0.25 grams or more of wax or THC as a felony.

Prosecutors can charge first-timers with less than 0.25 grams with a gross misdemeanor.

More on that here: Less Than One-Quarter Gram Possession Gross Misdemeanor.

Other:  More than 42.5 grams of plant-form marijuana is a felony to possess in Minnesota.  And sale of any amount is a felony.  More on other Minnesota marijuana crimes.

How can I keep my record clean?

Gallagher's Minnesota Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle CLE
Gallagher’s Minnesota Marijuana in a Motor Vehicle CLE

First, marijuana in a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor crime.  And that means if convicted, the defendant has a criminal record.  Avoiding a criminal record is valuable.  Background checks related to employment, housing, gun rights and more, reveal criminal convictions and cause unwelcome consequences.

Second, any drug crime related language on your public record is damaging.  So, words like “marijuana” and “drug paraphernalia” have consequences.  And we want to keep those away, to protect your name, future employment opportunities and more.

The desired outcome for most people accused of this crime is to prevent a public record of a marijuana conviction

In order to do that, you’ll need to avoid a conviction for (1) a criminal charge; and (2) any charge with marijuana or drug related words.  A good Minnesota Marijuana Attorney can help you keep a marijuana in a motor vehicle conviction off your record.

Loss of Driver’s License & Driver’s License Record

It’s a trap: Generally Minnesota Courts treat marijuana in a motor vehicle as a “payable offense.” That means the person ticketed can pay the fine without appearing in court.

This, however, will result in:

  • a conviction,
  • a driver’s license record of the conviction, and
  • 30 day or more license revocation.
Marijuana Attorney Thomas Gallagher
Marijuana Attorney Thomas Gallagher

Sure, paying the fine without a court appearance offers temporary convenience. But a conviction record, driver license record, and driver’s license revocation is the long-term result.

And many people don’t understand that until after they make the mistake.  But the best way to solve this problem is to avoid it in the first place.  How?

Preventing a conviction in court avoids the public conviction record, the driver’s license record and the 30 day license revocation.

So always fight every marijuana in a motor vehicle charge in court. And never “just pay the ticket.”

Why Retain a Defense Lawyer?

We have a high rate of success in marijuana in a motor vehicle cases.  It’s worth hiring a good defense lawyer to avoid a public marijuana conviction record; as well as the driver’s license record and revocation.

Question?  You can make a phone call to Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Marijuana Lawyer at 612 333-1500