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Ask a trooper: Blinding business lights handled case by case

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ask an expert Duluth, 55802
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

Q: In the past few months I have noticed business parking lots have added flood lights that shine brightly onto oncoming traffic. They are annoying and appear to be brighter than a car coming toward us with bright lights on. I wonder why they want to waste the light by directing it away from the parking lot, rather than aiming it fully onto their premises. When troopers see a hazard like this, do they do something about it? Do they have a meter to measure the light? Note: There is one on northbound Highway 53 near Stebner Road and another on southbound Highway 53, just a little further north.

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A: Sometimes troopers or perhaps other officers will stop at the concerned place of business and talk to them about it -- I have done so myself -- but most of the time we just tell the road authority such as Minnesota Department of Transportation, and they usually check into it and take care of it. No, we have no meters for that. If it appears to be a hazard, we react per situation.

Q: If a person is a witness to an accident, are they required to come forward to the law enforcement agency investigating the accident and notify the agency of such information?

A: It depends on the totality of all of the circumstances, but our "Good Samaritan Law" (Minnesota State Statute 604A.01) states (in subdivision one) that: "A person at the scene of an emergency who knows that another person is exposed to or has suffered grave physical harm shall, to the extent that the person can do so without danger or peril to self or others, give reasonable assistance to the exposed person. Reasonable assistance may include obtaining or attempting to obtain aid from law enforcement or medical personnel. A person who violates this subdivision is guilty of a petty misdemeanor."

While this statute doesn't seem to clarify the matter for all cases, it does make sense that whatever you do or don't do, a person should be prepared to explain why action was or wasn't taken. The intent of the statute is that we are not just driving by someone in need, jeopardizing their life or limb. In all cases, we need to use common sense on this issue.

Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.

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