Important New Court Cases:

Carrying a pistol while under the Influence

Minnesota Statutes Section 624.7142 makes it a crime to carry a pistol on or about the person’s clothes or person in a public place when the person is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Two recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decisions have provided guidance in regard to the term “carry”, which is not defined in the statute.

State v. Larson involved a valid permit to carry holder, who transported his unloaded pistol in a gun case from a public sidewalk into a private building with a gun range. The defendant was under the influence of alcohol. Police officers arrested the defendant, who now had the pistol in his holster, at the gun range. The defendant was convicted of carrying a pistol in a public place while under the influence of alcohol, based on his act of transporting the pistol on a public sidewalk outside the building.  On appeal, the Court affirmed the conviction holding that the definition of “carry” included the transportation of an unloaded pistol in an enclosed case. The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to review the decision.

State v. Prigge involved the traffic stop of a vehicle driven by the defendant. The officer determined that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him for impaired driving. During an inventory search of the car, the officer located a loaded handgun in the center console. The defendant was charged with carrying a pistol while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant moved to dismiss the charge. The motion was granted by the district court on the basis that since the pistol was in the center console of the car, the defendant was not carrying the pistol on or about his clothes or his person, within the meaning of the statute. The State appealed the dismissal of the charge. The Court of Appeals affirmed the order dismissing the charge, holding that the phrase “carry a pistol on or about the person’s clothes or person” requires a “physical nexus” between the person or the person’s clothes and the pistol. The State has requested Minnesota Supreme Court review of this decision.

Although violation of this statute is a misdemeanor, the statute provides that a police officer may make a custodial arrest of the person without a warrant upon probable cause, without regard to whether the violation was committed in the officer’s presence.