Ask a Trooper: State law requires drivers to move overState law requires drivers to move over
Sgt. Mark Baker
Minnesota State Patrol
Q: I see drivers go past police cars very closely when they are alongside the road. Is there a requirement for drivers to move over when they see a police car parked along the road?
A: Yes, there is and thank you for bringing up this topic. Most people think the main reason police officers die or are injured in the line of duty is from being shot or assaulted. The reality is that most officer deaths across the United States are traffic related. Minnesota is no exception.
Minnesota has a law requiring drivers traveling on roads with two or more lanes in the same direction, such as Interstate 35, to move a complete lane away from an emergency vehicle parked alongside the road with its emergency lights on. This law was recently expanded to include road work vehicles such as Minnesota Department of Transportation trucks performing maintenance or emergency road repairs. Understandably, there are times when a driver cannot safely move over one lane, and then they are required to slow down.
It took the death of State Trooper Ted Foss in August 2000 to pass a law like this. Foss was killed by an errant driver during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 in Winona County. The Northland lost Kim Grandholm in July 2002. Grandholm, an Esko firefighter, was struck and killed while assisting with a car fire in Carlton County on the shoulder of Interstate 35.
It is difficult for troopers to take enforcement action when these violations occur because we are dealing with another situation, therefore the law allows law enforcement up to four hours to locate the driver and issue a citation if warranted.
Ignoring this law endangers law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, road work crews and tow truck drivers who provide critical, and sometimes lifesaving, services on Minnesota roadways.
Q: Every now and then the houses in my neighborhood are “paint balled.” The pattern left seems to indicate someone drove by while shooting paintballs. What are the laws and regulations regarding paintball guns in vehicles?
A: A paintball gun fits the definition of a firearm in Minnesota. They may be transported in a motor vehicle unloaded and in a gun case expressly made to contain a firearm. No portion of the paintball gun can be exposed.
We occasionally get complaints of people shooting paintball guns at signs along the roadway, houses and other vehicles. It should go without saying that you cannot fire a paintball gun from a moving vehicle whether you are in city limits or out in the county.
Have a question you’d like to ask the State Patrol? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 720-4120 or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.