Ask a Trooper: Pumping and parking at gas station not considered a ‘drive-off’E-mail email@example.com 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.
Q: I recently purchased gas for my car at a local station in Duluth. I indicated on the pump that I would pay for it inside. After fueling up I moved my car to the parking spot in front of the station, and walked around the store for about two minutes to find a few items to purchase. When I went to pay for the gas and items, I was told by the cashier that the pump that I used was cleared and was considered a drive-off! She explained to me that it is illegal to drive your car away from the pump and park at the building. The car should be left at the pump. My understanding was that a person should do as I did. Is it illegal in the state of Minnesota to move your car from the pump up to the store to pay inside?
A: Really, there is no way this would be prosecuted because if the person doesn’t leave the premises and goes in to pay, then there is no drive off. I know that station attendants don’t like people to move the vehicle until payment has been made, simply because it starts them wondering if it’s going to be a drive-off. They have enough to worry about these days and we should probably be paying first before moving the vehicle even though we may not be technically required to do so. That way, we are not causing undue alarm or causing any misunderstandings. Thanks for asking.
Q: Does the State Patrol have dog handler units?
A: I contacted Sgt. Robert Frisby, who is the canine coordinator in our investigative services section. Sgt. Frisby said we have 14 dogs statewide. Most are Belgium Malinois; however, we do have a couple Labrador retrievers. All the dogs are drug-detection dogs; they do not do tracking or apprehension work.
Our unit is well-respected regionally and nationally. A number of unit members have placed high at national detector dog trials. Last year at the U.S. Police Canine Association national detector dog trials in Mississippi, our teams placed first and third. We have one other previous national champion in the unit and several that have placed in the top 10 and 20 in their careers. We also have one ATF explosive detection dog assigned in the metro area. That dog is a Lab and is monitored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Our handlers work the road with their canine partners, responding to calls for service in the stations to which they are assigned. When not responding to calls for service, our trooper/handlers try to make the most of their time and work with their canine partners. Most of the canine deployments annually are on State Patrol traffic stops. Our teams seize considerable contraband annually and are used by local and federal agencies regularly to help with vehicle stops and sniffs. Our teams are also used to assist with search warrants on structures when requested. We are fortunate to have a very close working relationship with many of the allied agencies in the areas we serve.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.