MN Lawmakers Address Inhalant Issue Known as ‘Huffing’

Minnesota lawmakers in the state senate on Friday examined how current state law covers huffing, something that means sniffing inhalants. The issue partly stems from a ruling made by the Minnesota Supreme Court in October, in which the justices overturned a woman’s conviction. In it, the court determined that she in fact didn’t violate state DWI law after she had been found slumped over in her vehicle with the inhalant difluoroethane in her system.

The state lawmakers held a hearing on the issue, with the new proposal currently known a Senate File 2479 being considered. Proposed by Senator Greg Clausen of Apple Valley, it addresses what some see as a loophole in current state law. Clausen began looking into the issue more thoroughly after he heard about a separate incident involving huffing in the state of Wisconsin.

If passed, the law would affect OSHA standards and change the list of what are considered hazardous substances under the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. The legislation has a number of high profile supporters, including Minnesotans for Safe Driving and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association.

When it comes to huffing law, Minnesota has a loophole, some contend…

“The current loophole excludes dangerous chemicals like 1,1 difluoroethane (DFE), a compound in computer dusters and frequently “huffed” to get high,” describes a news release made available via Clausen’s party website, the Senate DFL. “SF 2479 also creates uniformity through all DWI offenses by requiring prosecutors to prove a driver was “Under the influence,” the legal standard for alcohol and controlled substances offenses.”

Expected to have given testimony at the senate judiciary committee hearing were Lt. Don Marose of the State Patrol, David Bernstein of the DWI Task Force, and a couple others. Joining Clausen in supporting the bill are several co-sponsors, including senators Justin Eichorn, Dan Hall, Warren Limmer, and Ron Latz. You can view the senate filing here, via the Minnesota State Senate website.

When it concerns DWI, huffing law issues have been contentious in other states as well. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2017 examined the issue in the case Pennsylvania v. Packer.