Ask a trooper 2015

jon_y51o5q81Ask a Trooper, Extra Extra, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print Sauk Rapids - Rice, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, Minn. 55811 or follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach him at, neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.

 

Is it illegal to coast in neutral when driving a stick-shift vehicle?

Q: I have a stick shift vehicle. Is it illegal to coast in neutral?

A: This is a good question. It is not illegal. However, it was at one point.

The 1937 law stated: “Coasting.—The driver of any motor vehicle when traveling upon a down grade shall not coast with the gears of such vehicle in neutral. The driver of a commercial motor vehicle when traveling upon a down grade shall not coast with the clutch disengaged.”

In 2014, in an effort to clean up the state law books, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota State Legislature repealed the law. It’s now legal to coast downhill in neutral.

 

What is protocol for vehicles encountering a funeral procession?

Q: I encountered a funeral procession along a two-lane highway (no roads entering this section of highway) and the lead funeral- home vehicle had a light bar on the dash flashing an alternating red and blue light. Everyone on the highway going opposite the procession pulled over to the shoulder, thinking it was a police officer. Is this legal for the funeral home to do, and what is the protocol for vehicles encountering this?

A: Flashing red lights are allowed on funeral home vehicles but not blue lights. Below is what Minnesota law has to say regarding lights and funeral-procession protocol.

According to Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.64: “Flashing lights are prohibited, except on an authorized emergency vehicle, school bus, bicycle as provided in section 169.222, subdivision 6, road-maintenance equipment, tow truck or towing vehicle, service vehicle, farm tractor, self-propelled farm equipment, rural mail-carrier vehicle, funeral-home vehicle, or on any vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn, or the presence of a vehicular-traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing. All flashing warning lights shall be of the type authorized by section 169.59, subdivision 4, unless otherwise permitted or required in this chapter.”

M.S.S. 169.04 allows red lights stating, “specifically the use of motorcycles or vehicles that are owned by the funeral home and that utilize flashing red lights for the purpose of escorting funeral processions.

M.S.S. 169.20 covers funeral processions – “When any funeral procession identifies itself by using regular lights on all cars and by keeping all cars in close formation, the driver of every other vehicle, except an emergency vehicle, shall yield the right-of-way.”

“Right-of-way” means the privilege of the immediate use of the highway. To yield the right-of-way on a two-way road, you must pull to the right and stop. If you are on a one-way road, you must pull to whichever side is nearest and stop. If you are in an intersection, proceed through before stopping. Remain stopped until all those with the right-of-way have passed. You are not required to stop if the approaching procession or emergency vehicle(s) are separated from your lane of traffic by a physical barrier such as a fence, wall or median strip.

 

When did Minnesota State Troopers start wearing ‘Smokey Bear’-style hats?

Q: I follow you on Twitter and really enjoy the information you post. One of my favorites is the “Throw Back Thursdays” (#TBT) where you share pictures of the State Patrol from many years back. I’ve noticed troopers in some photos from way back are wearing a different style hat than the “Smokey Bear” style your organization wears now. When did this change occur? Thank you for your time, and my family and friends look forward to your articles and tweets.

A: Good observation and I’m glad you enjoy the history bits that I’m able to put out there. The original style hat Minnesota Troopers started wearing in 1929, the year the patrol was founded, was commonly known as the “peaked hat.” In 1974, the style of the Trooper hat changed to the “Smokey Bear” style. There was also significant reorganizing as an agency that year. Up to that point we were known as the “Minnesota Highway Patrol.” It was then changed to the “Minnesota State Patrol.” Also at that time, the department changed members from the name of “Officers” to now be known as “Troopers.”

If you’d like more history about the Minnesota State Patrol you can go to https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/msp/about/Pages/history.aspx

 

How many of your patrol cars have been struck while at a crash scene?

Q: How many of your patrol cars have been struck while at a crash scene?

A: Winter driving can be and is dangerous for all of us when the weather and road conditions become poor. The majority of the parked squads that are struck are in the winter season. I can speak from personal experience having been struck parked at a crash scene, while inside my squad car in December of 2013 and numerous other close calls from the past 17 years.

Here is the crash data from the past seven-plus years that involved Minnesota State Patrol squad cars that were struck. The 2015 statistics are through July.

MSP patrol cars struck

  • 2008 – 22 squads struck while parked; 10 troopers injured
  • 2009 – 28 squads struck while parked; 10 troopers injured
  • 2010 – 27 squads struck while parked; five troopers injured
  • 2011 – 26 squads struck while parked; nine troopers injured
  • 2012 – 17 squads struck while parked; four troopers injured
  • 2013 – 19 squads struck while parked; three troopers injured
  • 2014 – 25 squads struck while parked; four troopers injured
  • 2015YTD – six squads struck while parked; two troopers injured

Most of these types of incidents can be avoided by using safe winter-driving techniques, moving over to the other vacant lane when you are on a two-lane same direction roadway, or slowing down and providing room when you see any type of flashing lights.

The law requires motorists to move over for emergency vehicles and tow trucks. Law enforcement is looking for motorists who fail to move over and will enforce the “Move-Over Law.”

Move-over citations/warnings (MSP only)

  • 2008 – 419 citations, 1,327 warnings
  • 2009 – 622 citations, 2,342 warnings
  • 2010 – 618 citations, 2,466 warnings
  • 2011 – 975 citations, 2,898 warnings
  • 2012 – 703 citations, 2,667 warnings
  • 2013 – 713 citations, 2,209 warnings
  • 2014 – 816 citations, 2,476 warnings
  • 2015YTD – 350 citations, 1,070 warnings (1/1-7/1)

Please slow down, pay attention, drive sober and move over when you see flashing lights, and use good safe judgment when traveling.

 

Is a burned out rear-window-brake-light a violation of the law?

Q: My vehicle is equipped with a third brake light on the rear dash in my rear window. If that brake light quits working, is that a violation of the law?

A: Brake lights are crucial on any vehicle to allow other motorists to know when you’re stopping and for others to see you on the road during difficult lighting conditions.

Under Minnesota law, a vehicle equipped with a third brake light that is not working would be in violation of the statute.

The statute states in the maintenance, “When a vehicle is equipped with stop lamps or signal lamps, such lamps shall at all times be maintained in good working condition.”

For your safety, the safety of your passengers and the motorists around you, I encourage you to check your brake lights, head lights and turn signals often.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What is the policy for facial hair on a male trooper?

Q: With the month of November here, there is a lot of talk about “Movember” and “No Shave November.” I’m curious to know what the policy is for facial hair on a male trooper (such as beards, mustaches, goatees and more). Thank you for your time.

A: This is an excellent question. I will first explain what “Movember” and “No Shave November” are about. These are month-long journeys during which participants forgo shaving and grooming in order to evoke conversation about men’s health, and raise cancer awareness. Those missions often involve web-based, non-profit organizations devoted to growing cancer awareness and raising funds to support cancer prevention, research and education. “Movember” focuses on the mustache, whereas “No Shave November” covers the entire face.

The policy of the Minnesota State Patrol is to maintain a uniform dress and grooming code for all sworn personnel. Appearance reflects the professionalism of the organization and clearly identifies to the public the presence of a Minnesota State Patrol Trooper. As for facial hair, a Trooper’s face shall be clean-shaven except for sideburns and mustaches. A mustache may be worn by sworn personnel. If worn, shall be kept trimmed and clean. No portion shall extend below the corners of the mouth, a half-inch beyond the corners of the mouth or below the vermillion border of the upper lip. The mustache shall not twist in an upward position or be curled with any wax applied.

I know there are several Troopers and other officers participating in “Movember,” myself included. These different foundations have become a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $650 million and funding more than 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, Minn. 56560. (You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach me at jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

 

Is a steering-wheel knob legal to use for handicapped drivers?

Q: Just so I understand this correctly; it’s not against the law to have a steering-wheel knob. There are a lot of people telling me it’s illegal and I’ve been under the assumption if you have a medical need or are handicapped you can use this apparatus to assist with driving. Would you please be able to clarify if there is a law or not? If I am going to use this apparatus, would I need a doctor to prescribe it or do I just have to show a need? Kindest regards!

A: This is a question I am asked about quite often, are “steering-wheel knobs” (often referred to as “suicide knobs”) illegal? They are not illegal in Minnesota. If you perform a quick internet search, you will often find people claiming they are illegal. However, I believe this is one of those “car myths” that has spread throughout the years, possibly because of the term “suicide” which may have given a negative connotation causing people to assume they were illegal.

In fact, steering-wheel knobs are often prescribed to people with applicable disabilities to assist them in the driving of an automobile.

In closing, you do not need a doctor’s note to use a steering wheel knob in your vehicle.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

When it comes to snowy roads, what is more important obeying the lay or person’s safety?

Q: Your advice in one of your last articles, really, keep your plate visible at all times? You are advocating that at night, in a snow storm, under very poor visibility, that I pull over every few miles to clean the plate? If I fail to do so I can be ticketed? What is more important here, a person’s safety or obeying the law? I realize you can only answer this by reciting what the law is, and you cannot be on the record condoning law breaking. In my opinion any law-enforcement official who would not allow for winter time travel conditions should be given a good talking to by his/her superior. I do have knowledge of an incident that this occurred with a relative. Please do not take this email as angry in tone. Also in my opinion, the best officers are the ones that don’t always enforce by the letter of the law but can see the gray areas. Thank you for your columns, they often clarify or bring new knowledge about traffic laws. Have a good day.

A: Thank you for the question, and I will most certainly clarify the article on “obstructed taillights and license plates.”

In that article I mention, “If any part of the taillight or license plate is blocked by a bike, carrier or any other object, it is illegal and you may get stopped and possibly cited for it.” That is the simple explanation of the law and “any other object” could include snow. The person asking the question in that article stated they were “once pulled over for snow obstructing their rear plate during a blizzard…”

You ask what is more important – safety or obeying the law? I believe they go hand in hand, along with common sense. If taillights or license plates become obstructed, it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep them visible. Get in the habit of regularly checking them. Most of the time, this will be at the start of your trip and at the end. If you find yourself fueling up in-between, this would also be a good time. In other situations, find a safe and legal place to pull over.

In the event of inclement weather like a blizzard, law enforcement will most likely be very busy with crashes, vehicles getting stuck in the ditch/median, and assisting stranded motorists. But when time does allow me to address snow-covered taillights and license plates, I’ll have a quick chat with the driver to remind them of the issue and get them safely on their way.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 

Will a lit check-engine light prevent a driver from passing his driving test?

Q: My son has an appointment to take his driver’s test toward the end of the week. He wants to take the test driving our car, but a sensor light indicating the driver air bag is not operational stays lit. We’ve had this checked and all is fine except for the light staying on. I know they do a “once over” on the vehicle making sure lights, signals and more are in working condition. Will this prevent him from passing his driving test?

A: This is a good question. The State Patrol does not oversee driver’s license tests, but I did some checking with Driver and Vehicle Services. You will be asked to perform a safety-equipment check of your vehicle before you begin the road test. It must be in safe working condition and have all necessary equipment. You will be required to present current proof of insurance and demonstrate knowledge about:

  • Proof of insurance: original insurance identification card or policy. (Photocopies or Internet copies are not acceptable.)
  • Seat adjustment.
  • Seat belts.
  • Emergency (parking) brake.
  • Activating headlights (high and low beams). Vehicles with fully automatic headlights require the driver to manually activate the high- and low-beam headlights.
  • Activating hazard warning lights (four-way flashers).
  • Horn.
  • Windshield wipers.
  • Windshield defroster and fan controls.
  • Mirrors.

This list does not include all equipment and items required by law. If you are unable to pass the safety-equipment demonstration, you will not be allowed to finish the road test that day. The illumination of the “air bag not operational” light should not be an issue. In addition to the check-list, make sure your vehicle is mechanically sound so your son can complete the road test without any issues related to the vehicle. But whenever you have a question in regard to the tests, I would suggest contacting the DVS office directly or email dvs.driverslicense@state.mn.us.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Is it legal to block the rear of the vehicle and the license plate with equipment?

Q: My question is related to the blocking of rear license plates and the taillights on vehicles equipped with rear-mount bicycle racks, and also the large platforms that mount into a receiver hitch and most often contain large coolers. Is it legal to block the rear of the vehicle and the license plate with this equipment?  Yesterday, I was behind a van that had two kayaks strapped to the rear platform and the taillights were completely blocked so the drivers behind would have no idea when the vehicle was braking. I was once pulled over for snow obstructing my rear plate during a blizzard so I find it odd more and more cars have their plates obstructed with the carriers mounted on the rear of their vehicles.

A: If any part of the taillight or license plate is blocked by a bike, carrier or any other object, it is illegal and you may get stopped and possibly cited for it.

According to Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.50, vehicles built after 1960 must have two red taillights that are plainly visible at 500 feet to the rear and on the same plain.

M.S.S. 169.79 requires the license plate be “conspicuously displayed thereon in a manner that the view of any plate or permit is not obstructed.” This is a safety issue as other vehicles can’t see the taillights, and it could cause a rear-end crash. My advice is to make sure your license plate and taillights are visible at all times. Find other options on where to place bigger objects on or in a vehicle so the rear taillights and license plate can be seen.

Not being able to see the taillights is not the only potential danger when behind another vehicle — so is an unsecured load.

Please make sure all of your cargo is secured. Double-check the tie-down straps and keep an eye on your trailer and cargo. In the event any item comes off a vehicle while in motion, the driver can be cited for unsecured load, (M.S.S. 169.81.5) and could be liable for any civil actions that result in property damage or injury to other motorists who are trying to avoid and/or strike the unsecured item.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is it required for a tow-truck operator to wear reflective safety apparel?

Q: I cannot find it in any of the laws but I am sure it has to be there. Isn’t it required by law for a tow-truck operator who is operating on public roads to wear reflective safety apparel at all times? Only asking this because I am curious because I think it’s a Federal OSHA law yet you see so many drivers wearing nothing but a black shirt or hard-to-see apparel.

A: Yes, Tow-truck drivers who are working and exposed to moving motor-vehicle traffic are required to wear high visibility garments. The garment may be a Class 2 or a Class 3 garment. (Class 2 is a high-visibility vest and Class 3 is a high-visibility jacket). More information on this law can be found under Minnesota Administrative Rule 5205.0030.

This Rule is enforced by Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration. There are also requirements from Federal OSHA and the Federal Highway Administration that require the mandatory use of high-visibility garments when employees are working on a street, road , highway or other where the workers are exposed to moving motor-vehicle traffic.

When there is a crash scene, everyone who is working; police, fire, EMS, tow-truck operators, MNDOT and others should all be wearing a high-visibility garment in order to be in compliance. These garments are also required when directing traffic.

The rule also talks about the maintenance and condition of the garment. “If the high-visibility personal-protective equipment becomes faded, torn, dirty, worn or defaced, reducing the equipment’s performance below manufacturer’s recommendations, the high-visibility personal-protective equipment shall be immediately removed from service and replaced.”

Emergency responders working on the shoulder of the road have got your back. Do you have theirs? Minnesota’s Ted Foss Move Over Law was named in honor of the State Patrol trooper who was killed while on the shoulder of I-90 in Winona in 2000. The law states:

•When traveling on a road with two or more lanes, drivers must keep more than one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated — ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance, construction vehicles and tow trucks.

•Reduce speed if unable to safely move over a lane.

•Failing to take these actions endangers personnel who provide critical and life-saving services. Fines can exceed $100.

Moving over not only helps protect the lives of emergency workers, but also helps protect your life. Hitting a vehicle on the side of the road can result in injury or death for you or those in your vehicle.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

What are the leading contributing factors in crashes in Minnesota?

Q:  What are the leading contributing factors in crashes in Minnesota?

A: Great question.

When law enforcement is called to investigate a crash, in most cases, we complete the Minnesota Accident Report.  The report requires the officer to fill in or answer certain questions that pertain to the incident from road and weather conditions, driver and vehicle information, and contributing factors on how and why the crash occurred.

When the crash report is submitted, the crash data is stored and used to help prevent future crashes through engineering, education and enforcement.  The contributing factors are used by law enforcement to help us determine what caused it and how we can reduce crashes in the future.

Minnesota’s top five contributing factors from 2010-14:

      FATAL CRASHES                       INJURY CRASHES                  PROPERTY DAMAGE CRASHES

1.       Speeding                                         1. Driver Inattention                         1. Driver Inattention

2.       Fail To Yield                                  2. Fail To Yield                                   2. Fail To Yield

3.       Driver Inattention                       3. Speeding                                          3. Speeding

4.       Chemical Impairment                4. Following Too Close                      4. Following Too Close

5.       Driving Left of Center                 5. Weather                                           5. Weather

Statistics surrounding contributing factors to crashes are compiled by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety. The patrol uses this information to focus our enforcement efforts on educating the public on dangerous driving behaviors, which will hopefully lead to preventing crashes.

By paying attention, driving the speed limit, wearing your seat belt and never driving impaired,  you can reduce your chances of being involved in a potentially life-changing crash.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Does the law require drivers use turn signals when merging?

Q: Is it required (by law) to use turn signals when merging onto a freeway.

A: This is a great question I’m asked about quite often. This area would be considered an interchange/intersection. So yes, a turn signal would be required when merging onto the freeway.

Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.19 subdivision 4 states, “No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required in this section, or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until the movement can be made with reasonable safety after giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.”

According to state law, merging traffic must also yield the right of way to those already in the main line of traffic. M.S.S. 169.20 states, “The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.”

The Minnesota Driver’s Manual states: “Entry ramps are short, one-way roads that provide access to freeways. At the end of most entry ramps, you will find an acceleration lane that allows you to increase your speed in order to safely merge with traffic that is already on the freeway. To avoid disrupting traffic flow or “cutting off” other drivers when you merge, try to adjust your speed to accommodate vehicles already on the freeway. You must yield to other vehicles when you are merging. Use your turn signal to let other drivers know your intention. Watch for an opening in the nearest traffic lane and merge into the flow of traffic when you are able to do so.”

As a reminder, it is not only the law, but safe practice to always use a turn signal when changing lanes or turning. Using turn signals allows other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to see where you are going or intend to travel. Using turn signals can help avoid crashes that result in serious injury or death.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, Minn. 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

What’s the rule about passing a parked emergency vehicle?

Q: What is the rule about passing a parked emergency vehicle?

In this week’s Matters of Record, six drivers were fined $50 for passing a parked emergency vehicle with two lanes in the same direction. Perhaps we all need a reminder as to what the law is regarding passing or getting around a parked emergency vehicle. Thanks for addressing my question.

A: Great question. I have been a Trooper for more than 17 years and my patrol car has been hit by other vehicles while at crash scenes a couple of times. Many of my law-enforcement partners have also been struck as well. Almost all of these types of incidents are avoidable by slowing down and moving into the other lane of traffic in the same direction. If the other lane is occupied by other vehicles, please slow down and provide law enforcement room to work.

Minnesota State Statue 169.18S11 says when traveling on a road with two or more lanes, drivers must move over one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated — ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance and construction vehicles.

The law was created in memory of Corporal Ted Foss of the Minnesota State Patrol who lost his life 15 years ago. Corp. Foss was working a traffic stop on Interstate 90 when he was hit and killed by a passing vehicle on Aug. 31, 2000. The move-over law applies to all of these types of vehicles, including tow trucks.

Law enforcement has been enforcing this law in an effort to educate and promote safety when approaching and passing a parked vehicle with flashing lights. Fines can exceed $100. Motorists should also be encouraged to drive distracted free, pay attention to their surroundings, keep their vision down the road and slow down ahead of time for any hazard.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, Minn. 55811.  (You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us).

What are state requirements for a seller of a vehicle licensed in Minnesota to report when a vehicle is sold through a private-party sale?

Q: What does the State of Minnesota require the seller of a vehicle licensed in Minnesota to do or report when a vehicle is sold through a private party sale?

A: When you sell a vehicle, you (owner/seller) are responsible to file the “Notice of Sale” within 10 days of the sale. This is located in the lower portion of the “Certificate of Title,” and you would tear that small piece off. The information you would include would be the transferee’s full name, address, driver’s license number and date of sale. Mail to: Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services Division, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, Minn. 55101-5168. This can also be filed over the internet at mndriveinfo.org, or call 651-284-1234. If you go to the mndriveinfo.org, click on Vehicle Services & Report of Sale and fill out the online form and submit it. This notice is not required if sold to a licensed dealer. For your protection, upon the sale of a vehicle to a private party, it’s recommended the seller and buyer take the completed transfer to a deputy registrar.

I’ve seen several incidents where people had sold vehicles and failed to file the “notice of sale.” This has caused several issues and headaches for the former vehicle owners later down the road. Some of these included hit-and-run crashes and numerous other types of criminal activity.

If selling a vehicle, I strongly suggest viewing a valid form of identification from the new owner. If not, I’d most certainly be going to the deputy registrar with the buyer.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Does traffic have to wait for someone on a bicycle trying to cross at an intersection?

Q: Does traffic have to wait for someone on a bicycle trying to cross at an intersection?

A: Bicyclists and motorists are equally responsible for safety on the road. The number one contributing factor to bicycle-vehicle collisions is failure to yield the right-of-way — by bicyclists and drivers alike.

If the bicyclist is off their bicycle at an intersection and walks across, they have all the rights at the intersection as a pedestrian would.  Motorists must stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stoplights. Motorists should stop far enough back so drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.

Those riding a bicycle must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.

Bicycle-vehicle collisions are due to a variety of behaviors by the rider, such as disregarding a traffic sign or signal, inattention and distraction.

Each year in Minnesota, approximately 40 pedestrians and seven bicyclists are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles.

As a group, pedestrians and bicyclists comprise nearly 10 percent of all traffic fatalities each year — 67 percent of these fatal crashes occur in urban areas.

40 percent of pedestrians and 21 percent of bicyclists killed had consumed alcohol.

19 percent of pedestrians killed were not crossing properly.

Rules of the Road and Safety Tips

  • Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted.
  • Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Motorists must at all times maintain a 3-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.
  • Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.
  • Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it’s dark. To increase visibility, add a rear flashing light.
  • Motorists must drive at safe speeds and be attentive — look for bicyclists and check blind spots.
  • Drivers should use caution and look twice for riders when turning.
  • Drivers should use caution when opening doors upon parking on side of road.

This is a great question and topic to talk about.  I have seen an increase in bicycles on our roadways, so we all need to be extra cautious to prevent bicycle/pedestrian collisions with vehicles.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What happens in the case of an air-bag deployment?

Q: I spend a fair amount of time on the highway and often see passengers in vehicles with their feet on the dash. How can their seat belts be in the proper location to do their job? What would happen in the case of an air-bag deployment?

A: Great question. There is no law that prohibits a passenger from placing their feet on the dashboard while the vehicle is in motion.

However, passengers who put their feet up in a moving vehicle could be putting themselves at even greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. It comes down to using good judgment. I would bet most passengers never think about what could happen to them in the event of a collision when the airbags deploy.

Airbags are designed to cushion the head and chest of an adult passenger sitting in an upright position when wearing a correctly fitted seatbelt. If the passenger is sitting incorrectly, there is a greater risk of injury in a crash. This could result in their knees being forced into their chest or face that could cause a serious injury or death. There is also a risk of leg fractures or spinal injuries.

Below are some recommendations and information on airbag safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • When there is a moderate to severe crash, a signal is sent from the air bag system’s electronic control unit to the inflator within the air bag module.
  • An igniter in the inflator starts a chemical reaction that produces a harmless gas, which inflates the air bag within the blink of an eye – or less than 1/20th of a second.
  • Side-impact air bags inflate even more quickly since there is less space between the occupant and the striking object, such as the interior of the vehicle, another vehicle, a tree or a pole.
  • Because air bags deploy very rapidly, serious or sometimes fatal injuries can occur if the occupant is too close to – or is in direct contact with – the air bag when it first begins to deploy.
  • Sitting as far back from the steering wheel or dashboard as possible and using seat belts help prevent occupants from being “too close” to a deploying frontal air bag.

I highly recommend you do not place your feet on the dashboard while the vehicle is in motion.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

School bus safety tips for motorists, children

With school starting this article will be entirely focused on the safety of the most precious cargo in the world – our children. Traffic safety is a two-way street and everyone has an investment.

School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists:

Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stoparm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.

Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.

Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.

Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.

Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk.

School Bus Safety Tips for Children:

Parents should discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus:

When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).

Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen.

Wait for the driver to signal it’s safe to cross.

Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Have laws requiring mufflers changed; are they enforced?

Q:  Has the law requiring vehicles operated on roadways to have sound suppression devices (mufflers) been changed?

I see vehicles with straight pipes, motorcycles with straight pipes and hear many others that sound as if they have no suppression.

If the law is there why is it not enforced?

A:  The law has not changed. This is what the Minnesota State Statute 169.69 states:  “Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order which blends the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and is in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a street or highway. The exhaust system shall not emit or produce a sharp popping or crackling sound. Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with such parts and equipment so arranged and kept in such state of repair as to prevent carbon monoxide gas from entering the interior of the vehicle. No person shall have for sale, sell or offer for sale or use on any motor vehicle any muffler that fails to comply with the specifications as required by the commissioner of public safety.”

The law does not specifically answer how loud a motorized vehicle can be, but it does say a vehicle must have a good working muffler that prevents “excessive or unusual noise.” So any cutouts or bypasses, straight pipes or rusted out mufflers and exhaust with holes are all illegal. After-market mufflers, sometimes called “glass packs” or “cherry bombs,” can be an issue as they may produce “a sharp popping or crackling sound.”

Some counties and cities have local noise ordinances. Some of these cover the amount of noise, duration of noise and source sound other than ambient noise that affect residents. A noise ordinance defines which sounds are and are not acceptable at any given time so residents can live comfortably with the sounds they hear. Some of these are effective during certain times of the day, usually applying at night. So depending on where you live, I would check with the local authorities on their ordinances.

I know this law is enforced and we do our best to educate the public on traffic safety and equipment violations through education and enforcement.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Which speed signs are top priority when in a construction zone?

Q: With the law of $300 fines in construction zones, I have a question. I know the white-and-black speed limit sign is the legal speed limit. Are orange signs supposed to be advisory or warning signs? Can you get a ticket for going the speed of the white sign when there is also some orange signs posted? I’ve seen some construction zones with white-and-orange signs posted 55 mph and then some orange signs with 35 mph. What is the legal speed limit?

A:  If you are cited for speeding in a marked and posted construction zone, the amount of the fine is $300, and that does not include other fees that will be attached.

The white speed limit signs are the official regulatory sign. The orange signs serve as a warning; even though they are not regulatory, they are intended to provide clear instructions to help you drive safely. So if the posted speed limit is 55 mph, and you see an orange sign indicating 35 mph, I would recommend slowing to the indicated speed. The orange-and-black speed-limit signs are not enforceable, but you could be issued a citation for failing to drive with due care in the event of a crash or near collision. 

MS 169.14 Duty to drive with due care.  No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions. Every driver is responsible for becoming and remaining aware of the actual and potential hazards then existing on the highway and must use due care in operating a vehicle. In every event speed shall be so restricted as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

Below you’ll find a list of common traffic-sign colors and their meanings:

• Red: Almost always, red means stop. A red traffic sign either signals you to stop your vehicle or prohibits entry.

• Green: Green means go. A green traffic sign signals that you can proceed, or provides you with direction on where to proceed.

• Yellow: Yellow stands for caution. A yellow traffic sign serves as a general warning.

• Black and White: Black-and-white traffic signs provide posted regulations (for example, speed limits).

• Orange: Orange signals construction time. If you see an orange traffic sign, you will likely encounter construction or road maintenance ahead.

• Brown: Brown traffic signs reference local recreation areas or scenic points of interest.

• Blue: Blue stands for guidance. Blue traffic signs often offer information to assist motorists.

Minnesota signs, signals and pavement markings conform to the national standards.

 

What is the penalty for driving around a barricade when a road is closed?

Q: What is the penalty for driving around a barricade when a road is closed?

A: Minnesota State Statute 160.2715 says; “It shall be unlawful to drive over, though or around any barricade, fence or obstruction erected for the purpose of preventing traffic from passing over a portion of a highway closed to public travel or to remove, deface or damage any such barricade, fence or obstruction.” The violation is a misdemeanor, with a fine up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

When roads are closed, they are closed for a reason. Safety is our top priority, not only for the motoring public, but also for law enforcement, snow plows, construction workers and other responding personnel that may be providing services on those closed roads.

ROAD CLOSED TO THRU TRAFFIC or LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY tells you that you NEED to take a different route and should only cross the barrier if you have no other option to reach your destination within the restricted area. For example, if the driveway to your home, worksite or a friend or relative’s home can only be accessed on the restricted roadway, you are LOCAL TRAFFIC and NOT THRU TRAFFIC. If your destination is outside the restricted area, you must take another route and not go THRU.

ROAD CLOSED means just that; you cannot enter or cross the barrier; if you try, you may not get through, you may damage road work, get stuck and/or be subject to a citation. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says it would not typically close a road if access was needed. Even emergency vehicles generally have to re-route around a closed road.

One of the best resources to get road closure information is to call “511” or www.511mn.org. The State Patrol, Department of Public Safety and Minnesota Department of Transportation are quick to relay information to 511 so the public can be informed. Information is also available on websites and social media (Facebook and Twitter).

Troopers across the state want to see everyone stay safe and use good common sense by not driving around a closed-road barricade. Use extreme caution when traveling in a road closed to local-traffic-only area.

 

What are the new fines for texting, driving?

Q: Can you talk about the new law and fines for texting and driving?

A: Drivers who repeatedly choose texting over safety while behind the wheel risk a higher fine for violating the law. Under the new enhanced law, drivers face a $225 fine for second and subsequent violations of the texting while driving law, in addition to the current $50 fine. The $275 fine, plus court fees, can cost an offender more than $300.

Minnesota Statute 169.471 –Texting is illegal, including when stopped in traffic.                           

“No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device to compose, read or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic.”

Also illegal to access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.

It’s illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver’s license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911.

Distracted driving is a leading factor in crashes each year in Minnesota.

Distracted driving accounts for one in four crashes.

Distracted driving is responsible for 60 deaths and 225 serious injuries each year.

Driver inattention or distraction is the number one contributing factor in multiple-vehicle crashes.

Driver inattention or distraction contributed to more than 17 percent of all fatal crashes and more than 24 percent of all injury crashes in 2014.

In 2014, driver inattention or distraction contributed to 61 deaths and more than 7,000 injuries on Minnesota roads.

Make the right choice

Cell phones — Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.

Music and other controls — Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.

Navigation — Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.

Eating and drinking — Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.

Children —Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.

Passengers — Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Is it ‘legal’ to leave a pet in a car (summertime) with a/c and car running but locked?

Q: Is it “legal” to leave your dog in a car (summertime) with a/c and car running but locked? We occasionally will do this while grabbing a quick bite to eat or running a fast errand.

A: Minnesota State Statute 346.57 says, “A person may not leave a dog or a cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the dog’s or cat’s health or safety. A peace officer, as defined in section 626.84, a humane agent, a dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department of a political subdivision may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation of subdivision 1.

The law addresses the issue of the unattended pet in a “standing or parked motor vehicle” but also states “a manner that endangers the dog’s or cat’s health or safety.” You mention the dog is left in a running car, with the air conditioning on and doors locked. I see a few issues:

  • Where is owner of the vehicle and when are they coming back?
  • How would law enforcement know the air conditioner was on or working when approaching the vehicle?
  • What if the vehicle’s engine quits running?
  • Some cities with high auto thefts, as well as for noise reasons in residential areas, have ordinances in place so a vehicle cannot be left unattended, locked up and idling.

I would advise pet owners use caution and always look out for your pet’s well-being and safety.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. (You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at, neil.dickenson@state.mn.us).

 

Is it legal to carry passengers in a camper or fifth wheel on the highway?

Q: Is it legal to carry passengers in a camper or fifth wheel on the highway?

A: Although it appears unsafe, it’s legal for people to ride in campers pulled behind trucks in Minnesota. This is not the case in all states, so you need to check with each state you travel through.

I do not recommend having passengers in pull-behind recreation vehicles. Most of them are not designed to carry passengers and are not equipped with seat belts. In my career as a State Trooper, I have seen crashes that involved recreation vehicles, such as a fifth wheel and travel trailers and most of them offer little protection to occupants.

If you are a passenger in a motor-home-type vehicle, I recommend you sit where there is a seat belt installed and use it. A seat belt will decrease your chances of having a serious or fatal injury if the vehicle you are in crashes or rolls over.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is it illegal to have the ball hitch in the receiver of my truck if I’m not pulling any trailers at that time?

Q: I was wondering if it is illegal to have the ball hitch in the receiver of my truck if I’m not pulling any trailers at that time? Also is it illegal to have more than one ball on my bumper?

A: No, it is not illegal to have a ball hitch in the receiver of a truck when not pulling a trailer at that time. It’s not illegal to have more than one ball hitch on the bumper. But with that being said, you need to be aware multiple ball hitches on the bumper could obstruct the rear license plate. According to Minnesota State Statute 169.79 Subd. 7 “All plates must be (1) securely fastened so as to prevent them from swinging, (2) displayed horizontally with the identifying numbers and letters facing outward from the vehicle, and (3) mounted in the upright position. The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible and unobstructed and free from grease, dust or other blurring material so the lettering is plainly visible at all times. It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters and numbers or the name of the state of origin of a license plate with any material whatever, including any clear or colorless material that affects the plate’s visibility or reflectivity.”

The ball hitch needs to be a device approved by the commissioner of public safety. The ball hitch must be of sufficient strength to control a trailer. A ball hitch attached to the receiver can have the receiver detached and removed when not in use, especially if it is causing an obstruction.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Can a person get a ticket for driving too slow?

Q: Can a person get a ticket for driving too slow?

A: Yes. Freeways in Minnesota have an actual posted minimum speed limit. A driver must use due care in operating a vehicle, so there are times when traveling under that limit would be legal and encouraged because of weather conditions (snow, ice, fog or other) and actual or potential hazards on the highway.

Here is what Minnesota State Statute 169.15 says about impeding traffic: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law or except when the vehicle is temporarily unable to maintain a greater speed due to a combination of the weight of the vehicle and the grade of the highway.”

I look at it as how a “normal and reasonable” person would travel on a road. If a motorist is unable to maintain a safe speed when it’s a clear, sunny day and roads are in good condition, I would look for a reason beyond the violation, including:

Impairment from alcohol or drugs, even prescription medications

General physical/health problems

Diabetic loss of consciousness or seizures

Vision problems

Lack of physical driving skills

Lack of knowledge of traffic laws

Mental or emotional problems (including road rage, memory loss or other)

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

What type of license endorsement is needed to operate a three-wheel motorcycle?

Q: What type of license endorsement would I need to operate the new Can-Am Spyder three wheel motorcycle/vehicle in Minnesota?

A:  They are classified as a motorcycle in Minnesota and you must have a standard driver’s license with either a motorcycle instruction permit, a motorcycle endorsement, or “also valid for three-wheel motorcycle” under restrictions.

You will need to take and pass the three-wheel motorcycle road test at a DVS testing facility with a three-wheel motorcycle. DVS recommends letting them know the type of bike you will use for the road test when you make an appointment.

Motorcycle means every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, including motor scooters.

All motorcycle operators must:

  • Have a motorcycle instruction permit or endorsement.
  • Register their motorcycle and display a valid license plate.
  • Carry liability insurance.
  • Carry proof of insurance when riding.
  • Wear eye protection: face shield, goggles or glasses.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Do both rear license plate lights need to be in working condition?

Q: I’ve noticed there appears to be two light bulbs/lamps near the rear license plate. Is it required to have both lights on your license plate working or is it all right if only one light is working? Is it illegal if your license plate light or lights are out?

A: Most new vehicles are equipped with two rear license plate lamps. Some older models have only one. Minnesota State Statute 169.50 Subd. 2 says; “Either such rear lamp or separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear registration plate and render it legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear. Any rear lamp or rear lamps, together with any separate lamp for illuminating the rear registration plate, shall be so wired as to be lighted whenever the headlamps or auxiliary driving lamps are lighted.”

A reminder that all license plates must be: (1) Securely fastened to prevent them from swinging; (2) Displayed horizontally with the identifying numbers and letters facing outward from the vehicle; and (3) Mounted in the upright position. The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible, unobstructed and free from grease, dust or other blurring material so the lettering is plainly visible at all times. It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters, numbers or the name of the state of origin of a license plate with any material. That includes any clear or colorless material that affects the plate’s visibility or reflectivity.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

May mechanics with a Class D driver’s license ‘test drive’ a semi?

Q: I am wondering how to interpret a law for mechanics that have a “class D” driver’s license. Would they be able to “test drive” a semi or bring it to another shop for repairs without penalty? Another question I have pertains to electronic log books. My understanding is a truck driver is required to have a “paper log book” along with the “electronic book.” Is this true?

A: The driver of a vehicle must have the proper class license even if it’s just for a test drive. For example, a mechanic takes a truck-tractor without a trailer for a test drive, the minimum class license would be a “class B – Commercial Driver’s License.” Also, these mechanics/drivers would also need to be medically qualified (medical/health card.)

A paper log book is required as a backup if and when electronic logging fails. A driver would be required to have a supply of blank “driver’s record of duty status graph-grids” sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for the duration of the current trip. A driver using an electronic log book is also required to have an instruction sheet describing in detail how data may be stored and retrieved from an automatic on-board recording system.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 

Should I carry my vehicle’s title in my vehicle?

Q: Should I carry my vehicle’s title in my vehicle? If so, will a copy suffice? I worry about having the original stolen if someone breaks into my car. Also, what is a vehicle registration? Is it the same as my title? If not, where would I find my registration? Thank you for your help.

A: You are not required to keep your title in your vehicle and being the important document it is, I suggest storing it in a safe and secure location. Keeping a “copy” of your title in your vehicle is perfectly acceptable. Some people like to carry it with them to show proof of ownership or help resolve other issues relating to the registration when dealing with law enforcement alongside the road.

The vehicle registration is not the same as your title. Most motor vehicles are registered annually with the exception of some that are under a monthly or prorated system. When you register your vehicle or renew it, you will receive a “Minnesota Motor Vehicle Registration/Cab Card.” It will have the information pertaining to the owner, plate number, sticker number, vehicle ID number, make, year, expiration and more. A person is not required to carry the “cab card” in the vehicle unless it’s the required commercial vehicle. However, many people like to keep it in their vehicle with their documents.

During a traffic stop, the two required items you will need to provide law enforcement will be a driver’s licenses and proof of auto insurance.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

How many cars may someone sell at the end of a driveway without having a ‘dealer’ license?

Q: How many cars can someone try to sell at the end of the driveway without having a “dealer” license?

A: The law pertaining to a “dealer license” talks about the limit of vehicles a person can sell without needing that license. Minnesota State Statute 168.27 sub. 8 says; “A person is limited to the sale, purchase or lease of not more than five motor vehicles in a 12-month period.

As far as where a person is selling them, much of this will depend on the local zoning ordinances. I advise you to check with you local city, county or township about how many vehicles you can sell on your property. Vehicles are not allowed to be sold from rest areas, park-and-rides and within the highway right-of-way.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

What is the law regarding transporting firearms?

Q: I plan on travelling to Iowa in about a month to visit a friend; there is a possibility of going trap shooting while I am down there and I was thinking of bringing a shotgun down with me. Are there any laws against transporting a shotgun that I should be aware of, and what actions should I take to ensure I won’t find myself in any trouble?

A: Minnesota State Statute 97B.045 talks about the transportation of firearms. A person may not transport a firearm in a motor vehicle unless the firearm is:

(1) unloaded and in a gun case expressly made to contain a firearm, and the case fully encloses the firearm by being zipped, snapped, buckled, tied or otherwise fastened, and without any portion of the firearm exposed;

(2) unloaded and in the closed trunk of a motor vehicle; or

(3) a handgun carried in compliance with sections (624.714 and 624.715 which talks about permits.)

Also recognized is Federal Law § 926A. Interstate transportation of firearm: Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter [18 USCS §§ 921 et seq.] from transporting, shipping or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from anyplace where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, that in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

I would advise checking with Iowa on their law but my understanding is the Federal Law above would apply to that. Good luck and stay safe!

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

What happens when an auto dealer doesn’t transfer the title of a car or pay the taxes?

Q: What happens when an auto dealer doesn’t transfer the title of a car or pay the taxes?

A: Here is what Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) says regarding dealer transfering titles:

M.S.S. 168A.11 Sub.1 says the dealer shall mail or deliver the certificate to the registrar or deputy registrar with the transferee’s application for a new certificate and appropriate taxes and fees, within 10 business days.

M.S.S. 168.35 says: Any person who shall, with intent to escape payment of any tax on a motor vehicle, as herein provided, delay or neglect to properly list and apply to register the same, or, with intent to prevent the payment or collection of the proper tax, fee or lien thereon, violate or neglect to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

M.S.S. 297B.10 Sub.b (Motor vehicle sales tax) says: Any person who collects the tax imposed under this chapter from a purchaser and willfully fails to remit the tax is guilty of a felony.

The dealer and/or dealership could be charged with one or more of the aforementioned criminal offenses.

 

 

Thank you to those who served in U.S. military while serving with the state patrol

With Memorial Day around the corner, I wanted to take time to remember and honor Troopers who had lost their lives in World War II while serving with the Minnesota State Patrol. Clinton Quinlen died in World War II. Quinlen was a member of the 194th Tank Battalion from Brainerd. He was in the Death March on Bataan and was held in a prison camp for an extended period prior to succumbing to injuries. Linus Ward saw service in the battlefields of Europe and was sent back to the United States but died later in a camp here due to wounds he received overseas. Kenneth Gray returned from service with wounds serious enough to prevent him from returning to the ranks of the Patrol.

Our Patrol history notes the effects of World War II on the agency – many of our personnel were involved in military service and our organization was short-handed. The Patrol held jobs open for those who went into the military service, but many stations had only one Patrol Officer and some stations had to be closed for a period of time. Over time, our forces were brought up slowly as Troopers returned from the military ranks.

Today, many Troopers have served their country and many are still active in the military service. Thank you to everyone who has served and those who continue to do so.

 

 

 

contributed photo This is Diesel, a Belgian Malinois, Minnesota State Patrol K-9. Most dogs are 18 months old at acquisition and work for about 10 years.

contributed photo
This is Diesel, a Belgian Malinois, Minnesota State Patrol K-9. Most dogs are 18 months old at acquisition and work for about 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the Minnesota State Patrol use dogs within its agency?

Q: Does the Minnesota State Patrol use dogs within its agency?

A: Yes. This spring, Minnesota State Patrol canine handlers and their four-footed partners took top honors at the U.S. Police Canine Association (USPCA) Regional Certification Trials. Their wins qualify them to participate in the June U.S. championships, where they’ve won three national titles since 2007

In Region 12, Trooper Doug Rauenhorst and K-9 Diesel won first place in vehicle searches, and Trooper Derrick Hagen and K-9 partner Jack won first place overall. At the Region 18 event, Sgt. Gary Harms and Otis placed second overall, and Trooper Brett Westbrook and K-9 Skippy took first place overall.

The Minnesota State Patrol currently has 10 “K-9 troopers” who work exclusively with a specific handler. The troopers and their dogs conduct about 400 missions each year.

The State Patrol dogs — mostly Belgian Malinois, with the occasional Labrador or Shepherd recruit — are trained to detect the smell of narcotics and/or explosives. They’re tested and selected for MSP training based on specific, individual characteristics like the drive to hunt, ability to detect scent, and…well…dogged determination. The best drug dogs just don’t want to give up.

All K-9 troopers are certified by the USPCA. Certification is important when evidence discovered by a canine is presented in court.

Certification tests include competitions in which handlers work their dogs through three rooms. One room is clean — no drugs, but lots of distractions (food, human and chemical odors.) The other two are set up similarly, but with hidden drugs. The dog is expected to recognize the drug odor and pinpoint its location with behavioral cues in order to become a certified K-9 trooper. The dog is scored on timing and behavior; the handler is scored on ability to work the dog and read their partner’s cues.

A second certification test involves a line-up of five vehicles. Three have drugs hidden in them; two are clean. Again, timing, accuracy and teamwork are the criteria as judges watch for outstanding performance by dogs and their handlers.

Their primary trainer, Sgt. Chad Mills, and Cpl. Tony Snyder were instructed in U.S. Border Patrol training methods. They selected and trained all 10 of the current K-9 teams. Trooper Derrick Hagen just completed a canine instructor program; he now has the ability to train dogs in both drug and explosives detection.

A trained dog can walk the top of a semi-load of materials and recognize the smell of drugs. He (or she; they use dogs of both genders) can slip through the spaces between loaded items to pinpoint the location of a stash. The accuracy and efficiency their noses and drive bring to MSP operations saves time, money and ultimately lives. In many cases, they’re keeping narcotics out of the hands of dealers.

National USPCA competitions are coming up soon in Jackson, Miss., and we’ll let you know if the MSP K-9 Unit brings home the gold again. Please check in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s blog page https://dps.mn.gov/blog/Pages/default.aspx or onto the Minnesota State Patrol’s Facebook page.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What is the law regarding loud motorcycle mufflers?

Q: Just a question I am sure you have heard 1,000 times. Why are trucks with loud mufflers ticketed and all of these motorcycles going around town revving up their pipes are not? Is there a difference in the statutes?

A: This is a good question I am asked quite often. Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.69 says; “Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order which blends the exhaust noise into the overall vehicle noise and is in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a street or highway. The exhaust system shall not emit or produce a sharp popping or crackling sound. Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with such parts and equipment so arranged and kept in such state of repair as to prevent carbon monoxide gas from entering the interior of the vehicle. No person shall have for sale, sell or offer for sale or use on any motor vehicle any muffler that fails to comply with the specifications as required by the commissioner of public safety.”

M.S.S. 7030.1050 talks in more depth about motor vehicle noise limits for motorcycles.

 

trooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. For vehicles manufactured before Jan. 1, 1975.

B. Speed limits greater than 35 mph for vehicles manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 1975.

C. Speed limits equal to or less than 35 mph for vehicles manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 1975.

Motorcycle season has begun. We need everyone on the highway and roadways to do their part to help everyone get home safely to our families.

Riders

  • Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.
  • Wear the gear. Motorcyclists should wear a DOT-approved helmet and brightly-colored protective gear for visibility and protection.
  • Don’t drink and ride. One-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders.

Motorists

  • Watch for motorcycles and always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.
  • Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.
  • Give riders room and check blind spots. Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What is needed in addition to when one has a permit or driver’s license to drive a gas-powered bicycle/moped?

Q: I read one of your recent articles about gas-powered bicycles/mopeds and I have some questions of my own. What is needed in addition when one has a permit or driver’s license?

A: These rules apply to required equipment and gear for moped riders:

  • A moped must meet the same lighting requirements as a motorcycle, with a headlight, taillight and stop lamp. The headlight must be on during operation. Mopeds manufactured before 1987 are not normally equipped with a headlight or taillight and may be operated during daylight hours only.
  • A horn and mirror are required safety equipment for a moped.
  • Moped riders must wear protective eyewear.
  • Moped riders under 18 years old must wear a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet.
  • The Department of Public Safety recommends moped operators observe the same rules of safety and wear the same protective equipment suggested for motorcycle riders.

These rules and restrictions apply to operating mopeds:

  • Because of the relatively low speeds of mopeds, you should ride in the traffic lane as far right on the roadway as possible unless you are making a left turn. Riding on sidewalks is not permitted except where it would be necessary for a short distance to get from a driveway, alley or building to an adjacent roadway.
  • Mopeds are not allowed on lanes or trails that have been set aside for bicycles and the exclusive use of non-motorized traffic.
  • Moped riders on a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast and shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
  • Mopeds are not allowed on interstate freeways.
  • A moped equipped with a headlight and taillight that meet motorcycle lighting requirements may be operated during nighttime hours. “Night” or “nighttime” means the time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is it legal to drive down a roadway with a car door open, due to hauling a load that doesn’t quite fit?

Q: I recently saw a vehicle going down the highway with one of the car doors left wide open, I believe it was the right rear door of this four-door vehicle. It appeared the person in the vehicle was hauling something and unable to shut their car door. Whatever they were hauling was sticking out just barely, but the car door was completely open. I was wondering if this is illegal.

A: If the right rear door was completely open, I would say that was illegal. There is no requirement for a passenger door to be on a vehicle (for example, Jeeps, delivery trucks, etc.); however, the door being opened cannot inhibit the flow of traffic. Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) has laws in reference to extending beyond fenders and projecting loads.

M.S.S. 169.80 subdivision 3 says, “No passenger-type vehicle shall be operated on any highway with any load carried thereon extending beyond the line of the fenders on the left side of such vehicle nor extending more than six inches beyond the line of the fenders on the right side thereof.”

For loads projected to the front, M.S.S. 169.81 says, “The load upon any vehicle operated alone, or the load upon the front vehicle of a combination of vehicles, shall not extend more than three feet beyond the front wheels of such vehicle or the front bumper of such vehicle if it is equipped with such a bumper.”

For loads projecting out to the back, M.S.S. 169.52 says, “When the load upon any vehicle extends to the rear four feet or more beyond the bed or body of such vehicle, there shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of the load, at the times when lighted lamps on vehicles are required in this chapter, a red light or lantern plainly visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the sides and rear. The light or lantern required under this section shall be in addition to the rear light required upon every vehicle. At any time when no lights are required, there shall be displayed at the extreme rear end of such load a red, yellow or orange flag or cloth not less than 16 inches square.”

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What are the current rules/regulations of crossing the border into Canada if you have a DUI?

Q: I want to take my nephew to Canada fishing. He got a DUI about 3-5 years ago, so what are the current rules/regulations of crossing the border into Canada if you have a DUI?

A: This is a good question but does not apply to the Minnesota State Patrol or the United States of America. However, I will attempt to answer this from what I found out from the “Canada Border Crossing Services.”

When entering Canada, be prepared to be asked by a Canada Border Services Agency officer: “Have you ever been arrested, fingerprinted or appeared in court.” This includes DUI convictions also known as DWI (driving while intoxicated). Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious offense in Canada and the officer can refuse you entry into their country if you have been convicted of this offense.

The good news, is that this can be fixed via one of two methods depending on the length of time passed since the conviction.

  • For DUI and convictions less than five years old: An application for a Temporary Resident Permit will allow travel into Canada for business and/or pleasure.
  • For DUI and Convictions more than five years old: A rehabilitation permit may be applied for allowing permanent hassle-free travel into Canada.

Regardless of the nature of any conviction, whether it be a DUI, misdemeanor or felony, all alcohol-related convictions are treated seriously. It’s always best to tell the truth when speaking with a Canada Border Services Agency officer because if a lie is uncovered you may be refused entry into Canada in the future.

Despite the port of entry or method of transportation used to cross into Canada, you can be denied entry for a DUI for the following: you arrive by air at a Canadian airport; you are not driving and only a passenger in a private or commercial vehicle; and/or leaving a ship docked at a Canadian harbor.

Canada Border Crossing Services can help you successfully file the correct information to be granted either a Temporary Resident Permit or an application for Rehabilitation. For more information go to http://bordercrossing.ca/dui-canada-border-crossing.cfm

 

Is a permit required to provide CDL driver exams at a freeway rest stop?

Q: I am an occupational medicine physician who does DOT driver physical exams. We use a Winnebago RV converted into a medical clinic and set up our “clinic” wherever we are asked to perform these exams, mostly at truck stops, private trucking-firm headquarters, shopping centers and so on. I was wondering if freeway rest stops, where there are always plenty of CDL drivers, would be a place I could legally conduct my business? Would I need a permit or other form of permission to do so? Most privately owned places, especially truck stops, always seem very cordial and allow me to put out a 2-foot x 3-foot sign indicating what we are offering and the cost of our service and this works well. But I have always wondered about doing the same at rest stops along the freeways around the Twin Cities.

A: The Minnesota Department of Transportation will consider permits for activities relating to the safety and convenience of motorists — for example, activities involving rest, parking and travel information. Activities can’t interfere with the normal use of the rest area, and they must be free of charge. Unless this is a “free” business, I don’t believe you would be allowed to do this.

Examples of permissible activities include: providing coffee or windshield washing at no charge, and distribution of “See Motorcycles” bumper stickers. Examples of impermissible activities include: weddings, worship services, political events, geocaching, hunting, posting of signs or posters, and distribution or exhibition of obscene materials.

You will want to contact MnDOT for more information at info.dot@state.mn.us.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is it illegal to push snow onto roadways?

Q: Winter is here and I’m noticing some people are pushing the snow from their driveways onto the highways. The piles and ice buildup are unsafe, is this illegal?

A: According to Minnesota State Statute 160.2715, “it shall be unlawful to obstruct any highway or deposit snow or ice thereon.” This prohibits the plowing, blowing, shoveling or otherwise placing of snow on to public roads. This includes the ditch and right-of-way area along the roads.

Violations are considered misdemeanors, but civil penalties also apply if the placement of snow creates a hazard, such as a slippery area, frozen rut or bump, that contributes to a motor vehicle or pedestrian crash. The civil liability can extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.

If a person observes something appearing to be a hazard, I would encourage them to report it as quickly as possible to the proper law enforcement agency or highway department. Here are some winter driving tips:

  • Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.
  • Increase the safe stopping distance between vehicles.
  • Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind them.
  • Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What size fire extinguisher is required in a 10-passenger van?

Q: Hello, my question was referred to you by the State Fire Marshal’s office. I have a customer who has a fire-extinguisher question. It is a school that just purchased a 10-passenger van and they are wondering what size fire extinguisher is required.

A: This is what we would refer to as a “type III vehicle.” A “type III” is restricted to passenger vehicles and buses having a maximum manufacturer’s rated seating capacity of 10 or fewer people, including the driver, and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less.

The requirement for type III vehicles would be a minimum of one 10BC-rated dry-chemical fire extinguisher. The extinguisher must be mounted in a bracket, located in the driver’s compartment and be readily accessible to the driver and passengers. A pressure indicator is required and must be easily read without removing the extinguisher from its mounted position.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Can a person with a handicapped-parking permit park at a meter without having to pay?

Q: Can a person with a handicapped-parking permit park at a meter without having to pay?

A: If there’s a physically disabled person in the vehicle, a vehicle can be parked in a metered space without payment if certain requirements are met, according to Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.345 “Privilege for the physically disabled.”

A vehicle that “prominently displays the certificate authorized by this section or that bears the disability plate or plates may be parked by or solely for the benefit of a physically disabled person in a… metered parking space without obligation to pay the meter fee and without time restrictions unless time restrictions are separately posted on official signs.”

“A person may park the vehicle for a physically disabled person in a parking space only when actually transporting the physically disabled person for the sole benefit of that person and when the parking space is within a reasonable distance from the drop-off point.” Note, the vehicle must display the required certificate or license plate.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 

 

Can a new driver with a permit start a vehicle without supervision?

Q: Can a new driver with a permit start a vehicle without supervision? Or is this act considered operating a vehicle?

A: In almost 18 years of Law Enforcement, 17 of those with the Minnesota State Patrol, that is the first time I’ve been asked that question. Researching the laws in the Minnesota State Statutes (M.S.S.), here is what I found:

M.S.S. defines “driver” as “every person, who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.” Obviously in Minnesota, a driver’s license is required to operate the type of vehicle your license class applies to. Due to incidents where people have been arrested for “driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs” there is case law talking about “driving, operating and physical control.”

Physical control is defined as: “Being in a position to exercise dominion or control over the vehicle. Thus a person is in physical control of a vehicle if they have the means to initiate any movement of that vehicle and they are in close proximity to the operating controls of the vehicle…”

Based on that, a person with an instruction permit would not be legally able to start a vehicle, unless under the supervision of a parent, guardian or other licensed driver 21 or older occupying the front passenger seat.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What are the new graduated driver’s licensing laws for new drivers?

Q: What are the new graduated driver’s licensing laws for new drivers?

A: The 2014 Minnesota Legislature passed a new graduated driver licensing law effective Jan. 1, 2015. The new law requires driver-education programs to offer a 90-minute class for parents of teens obtaining their instruction permits and provisional driver’s licenses. This class will provide information regarding teen driving risks, teen driving laws and adult influences on teen driver behaviors. The new law also requires students under the age of 18 submit a supervised driving log to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test for the provisional driver’s license. The log must verify the student completed 50 hours of supervised driving time, 15 of which must be nighttime hours. If a parent/guardian completes the parent class and submits a certificate of completion to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test, or if it was submitted when applying for an instruction permit, 40 hours of supervised driving time are required, 15 of which must be nighttime hours.

The parent awareness class is critical to understanding today’s teen driving risks, Minnesota’s teen driving laws and how to help your teen become a safer driver. As a parent, don’t put convenience ahead of safety. Just because teens have their licenses doesn’t mean they’re ready for every driving situation. Parents should continue to supervise their teens driving after they’re licensed. The key to developing safer teen drivers is to provide supervised experience — a lot of “windshield time,” discuss driving responsibilities with your teen, establish clear family driving rules and follow through with consequences when warranted. We encourage parents to practice with their kids well beyond the new minimum requirements of the law to ensure they’re prepared to drive in the many driving and weather conditions they will eventually experience on their own. The extra required driving practice hours and the supervised driving log help teen drivers become more experienced and help parents track progress and areas to improve.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Do police officers have ‘quotas’ for tickets?

Q: I was talking with a friend the other day and the topic of “quotas” came up. He told me cops have to write a certain amount of tickets each month otherwise they get in trouble. He also said this is why you see so many more out on the streets and highways at the end of the month trying to get their numbers in. Is this true?

A: No, traffic citation quotas are prohibited in Minnesota. State Statute 169.985 says, “A law enforcement agency may not order, mandate, require or suggest to a peace officer a quota for the issuance of traffic citations, including administrative citations authorized under section 169.999, on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.”

Through education and enforcement, the Minnesota State Patrol strives to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roads. Illegal or unsafe speed is a leading contributing factor in Minnesota’s fatal crashes — accounting for at least 80 deaths annually. Two-thirds of those deaths occur on rural, two-lane roads in Minnesota and young adults are the most common offenders and those at greatest risk.

Speeding is not an innocent crime — it puts every motorist at risk on the road:

  • Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.
  • Increased stopping distance.
  • Slower response time to avoid crashes.
  • Increased crash severity — the faster the speed, the more violent the crash.

Lack of seat-belt use also plays a significant role in contributing to driver and passenger deaths. About half of the motorists killed in Minnesota are not buckled up.

To keep you and your loved ones safe: Drive the speed limit, buckle up, pay attention, and never drink and drive.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is driving in the wrong direction facing on-coming traffic while collecting mail or visiting neighbors legal?

Q: I live in a very small town and see people all the time driving in the wrong direction to collect their mail or visit neighbors. This means they are on the wrong side of the road facing on-coming traffic. I feel like I’m in a foreign country. Is this legal? Thank you in advance for an answer.

A: Driving down the opposite side of the street/road/highway for any of those reasons is not only illegal, it’s unsafe.

With spring just around the corner this means increased hazards such as melting snow, icy roads, rain, mist and fog. When these conditions exist, drivers must use extra caution on the roadways:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance when rain or mist begins to fall. Even a small amount of water can mix with oil and grease on the road to create slippery conditions.
  • Use your headlights.
  • If you are driving in rain or fog that totally impairs visibility, pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your hazard lights.
  • To keep the inside of your windshield clear of moisture, turn on your fan and defroster; ­the air conditioner may work wonders as well.
  • Allow extra following distance: a car needs up to 10 times more distance to stop on a wet road than on dry pavement.
  • Avoid driving through large puddles: splashing water may affect your brakes, cause your car to swerve and impair the vision of other motorists.
  • Watch the road to see if the vehicle ahead is leaving tire tracks. If possible, follow in those tracks, if not, reduce speed slowly to prevent hydroplaning.
  • Watch for icy conditions caused by thawing snow, spring rains or mist, especially in shaded areas, on bridges and overpasses. Remember these areas freeze first.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians; they may be more difficult to see in the rain and fog.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 

 

Can I run a gas-powered bicycle that only goes 20 mph without a license?

Q: I’m getting spring fever and I have a question. Can I run a gas-powered bicycle that only goes 20 mph without a license ?

A: Motorized bicycles are registered as mopeds. A motorized bicycle must meet the following requirements:

  • Electric motor or a liquid-fueled engine with piston displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less.
  • Maximum of two brake horsepower.
  • Maximum speed of 30 mph on a flat surface.

Any person who has a valid driver’s license may operate a moped without taking a moped test. Anyone without a driver’s license, regardless of age, must obtain a moped operator’s permit to legally operate a moped. You must carry your license or permit with you when you ride. To obtain a moped operator’s instruction permit you must:

  • Be at least 15 years old.
  • Present proper identification.
  • Present a certificate of completion issued by a state-approved moped safety course.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pass a knowledge test.

If you are under 18 years old, you must meet these requirements and present a certified approval slip from your parent or legal guardian before taking the knowledge test and skills test. Approval forms are available at license exam stations.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What does ‘pm,’ ‘m’ and ‘gm’ mean on a citation?

Q: I was recently pulled over for an equipment violation. On the citation there is a box with “pm,” “m” and “gm” with the “pm” circled. I’m curious as to what that indicates. Thank you for your time.

A: Those indicate the level of the violation that occurred.

  • “Petty misdemeanor” means a petty offense which is prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 may be imposed.
  • “Misdemeanor” means a crime for which a sentence of not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, may be imposed.
  • “Gross misdemeanor” means any crime which is not a felony or misdemeanor. The maximum fine which may be imposed for a gross misdemeanor is $3,000.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Is it legal to unwind the ‘new-to-me’ odometer to match the actual miles on the RV and is there a person/place where I can get this done?

Q: I own a 1987 Toyota-based RV.  The dashboard instrument cluster is pretty minimal – no tachometer among other things.  I’ve found a cluster from another Toyota truck that I’d like to install. My problem is my RV has about 112,000 miles on the odometer while the “new” odometer shows a bit more than 210,000 miles. Is it legal to unwind the “new-to-me” odometer to match the actual miles on the RV and is there a person/place where I can get this done?

A: Here is what Minnesota State Statute 325E.14 Subd.6 says about replacing odometers, “Repair or replacement restriction. Nothing in this section shall prevent the service, repair or replacement of an odometer, provided the mileage indicated thereon remains the same as before the service, repair or replacement. Where the odometer is incapable of registering the same mileage as before such service, repair or replacement, the odometer shall be adjusted to read zero and a written notice shall be attached to the left door frame of the vehicle by the owner or an agent specifying the mileage prior to repair or replacement of the odometer and the date on which it was repaired or replaced. No person shall remove or alter such a notice so affixed.”

Example of odometer notice:

trooper

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what this means for your situation where your odometer is being replaced with a “used” odometer and unable to reflect the vehicle’s actual mileage. You would need to adjust this “new-to-you/used” odometer to reflect zero. The written notice shall be attached to the vehicle’s left door frame. I would advise keeping all documents and receipts on file of the work you had done and equipment purchased for this repair. It would probably be a wise idea to keep another set of the copied documents in your vehicle.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

How do drivers show proof of auto insurance if they’ve gone ‘paperless’?

Q: I am attempting to go “paperless” and do all of my monthly bills online, including my auto insurance. I no longer receive a paper printout of my proof of auto insurance. Is this acceptable if a person is required to show it on a traffic stop or crash?

A: Yes, as long as a person can show the current auto insurance electronically (mobile phone or other means electronically.) Every driver, including a motorcyclist, must have in possession proof of insurance and display this proof on the demand of a peace officer (traffic stop, crash or other).

As of Aug. 1, 2013, proof may be presented electronically pursuant to Minn. Stat. sec. 60A.139, subd. 2. Failure to display proof of insurance is a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor if it’s a third violation within 10 years pursuant to Minn. Stat. sec. 169.791, subd. 2.

“Delivered by electronic means” includes, delivery to an e-mail address at which a party has consented to receive notices or documents or posting on an electronic network or web site accessible via the internet, mobile application, computer, mobile device, tablet or other electronic device, together with separate notice of posting, which must be provided by electronic mail to the address at which the party has consented to receive notice or by any other delivery method that has been consented to by the party.

If your electronic device is not working (dead battery on your phone, website not accessible, no service or other), you could be cited for “no proof of insurance.”

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

Who has primary investigative authority of a crash involving a train?

Q: If there is a serious injury or fatal crash involving a train, who has primary investigative authority? Is it the railroad company or law enforcement? Can law enforcement request body fluid samples (blood, urine, breath) from the train engineer, using the same criteria used when law enforcement is working a vehicular crash?

A: It’s a two-pronged investigation. Law enforcement would handle the crash report, but the Federal Rail Authority has primary jurisdiction over any incident involving a train. Law enforcement cannot require or take a fluid sample from any member of the train crew. FRA and the railroad company handle that process. They also work together on the investigation surrounding the train’s black box or event recorder. The legal explanation is found in federal law http://www.fra.dot.gov/.

Law enforcement would deal with the other factor(s) involved (person, vehicle, bicycle or other) and gather the evidence needed for that part of the investigation. Here is guidance from “Operation Lifesaver on staying safe around train crossings:

  • Trains and cars don’t mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
  • The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
  • Be aware trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields!
  • Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law-enforcement agency.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your vehicle you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law-enforcement agency for assistance.
  • At a multiple-track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
  • When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

 

What are the State Patrol rankings from highest to lowest?

Q: Could you please tell me the State Patrol rankings from highest to lowest please.

A: The Minnesota State Patrol is comprised of persons designated by law, as the chief supervisor, chief assistant supervisor, assistant supervisors and troopers. To clarify, the colonel is the head of the organization, followed by the lieutenant colonel. The command staff is further filled out with majors. The district commanders are captains. Each district has several field supervisors, lieutenants. Each station has one sergeant. The troopers are the first rank, and make up the largest contingent in the organization.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 

Can tracks on pickups be used on the highway? Are metal-studded tires allowed?

Q: I’m bracing for the long haul of winter and I have a question. Can I put tracks on my pickup and drive them on the highway? They are quite expensive and I’d like to know before making the purchase.

A: For rubber tracks, here’s what Minnesota State Statute 169.72 says – “Every solid rubber tire on a vehicle must have rubber on its entire traction surface at least 1″ thick above the edge of the flange of the entire periphery.” So as long as the solid rubber tracks meet that criteria and do not cause damage, they would be allowed on road surfaces in Minnesota.

The law in regards to wheel flaps and fenders would still apply. If the tracks stick out beyond what the original fenders cover, fender flares would then be required. I believe it’s always best to do some research before purchasing any aftermarket item. When in doubt, contact your local law-enforcement agency and ask them. This is one of the services I try to provide.

As for metal-studded tires, Minnesota State Statute 169.72 further says, “No person shall operate or move on any highway any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, having any metal tire in contact with the roadway, except in case of emergency.”

An exemption would be the occasional use of studded tires by non-residents under the following conditions:

  • A person, operating a motor vehicle licensed and registered in another state or province of a foreign country which authorizes the use of metal studs or wire-embedded tires on its highways, may use such on our state highways while occasionally within the state.
  • The metal studs shall not exceed 5/16 of an inch in diameter inclusive of the stud casing with an average protrusion beyond the tread surface of not more than 7/64 of an inch. The number of studs in a tire shall not exceed two percent of the total net contact area.
  • Use of a vehicle in this state on more than 30 days in any consecutive six-month period is not occasionally.
  • A person whose regular place of employment is within the state or who is a student at an educational institution located within the state, shall not operate a vehicle, regardless of its place of registration, upon any highway within the state if such vehicle is equipped with tires which would be unauthorized were the vehicle registered in this state.

There is also an exemption for rural postal carriers that have applied for a permit from the Commissioner of Public Safety based on a percentage of their route is gravel and the time of the year. For more information go to www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/indexf7b8.html?id=169.72.

A portion of state statutes was used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Author: jon_y51o5q81

Leave a Reply