MN Court: Law against carrying gun while drunk doesn’t extend to car console

It is illegal in Minnesota to carry a gun when drunk. The center console of your car? That’s OK, according to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The court today upheld a district court judge’s decision to dismiss a charge against Christopher Prigge, who was stopped by a Maple Grove police officer for suspected driving under the influence in April 2016. A later search of the car discovered the gun in the console, and, thus, the additional charges under state law, which says:

Subdivision 1.Acts prohibited. A person may not carry a pistol on or about the person’s clothes or person in a public place:
(1) when the person is under the influence of a controlled substance, as defined in section 152.01, subdivision 4;
(2) when the person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1) and (4);
(3) when the person is knowingly under the influence of any chemical compound or combination of chemical compounds that is listed as a hazardous substance in rules adopted under section 182.655 and that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person so as to impair the person’s clearness of intellect or physical control;
(4) when the person is under the influence of alcohol;
(5) when the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.10 or more; or
(6) when the person’s alcohol concentration is less than 0.10, but more than 0.04.

The judge dismissed the charge because Prigge was not carrying the pistol “on or about his clothes or his person.”

Today, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals agreed.

As is often the case when trying to determine what the Minnesota Legislature meant, the judges turned to the dictionary.

“‘Carry’ is defined as ‘[t]o hold or support while moving; bear,’or ‘[t]o hold or be capable of holding,'” Judge Michelle Larkin wrote in her decision.

She said the law refers to “only carrying a pistol on or about the person’s clothes or person, and does not include carrying, holding, or possessing a pistol in a vehicle.”

What happens if someone’s clothing is actually touching the gun in the center console?

“While our decision is limited to the facts of this case, we presume that the legislature does not intend absurd or unreasonable results,” she said.