Ask a Trooper for May 27, 2012E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 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 have seen this happen several times, and I don’t know if it’s legal so I am asking the question. On a roadway with a center turn lane (like Grand Avenue in West Duluth), I have seen cars pull out from the side into the center turn lane and drive in that lane until they could merge with the traffic. The traffic closest to them was clear so they could pull out, but the lane they wanted to travel in was full so they just drive in the center lane until they can merge. Is this legal?
A: No, it is not legal. Those drivers can (and should) be cited for that. It is a moving violation and will go on their driving record. The fine is about $137 depending on the exact location of the violation and county fees attached. Thanks for asking and bringing it to the attention of the public.
Q: At the newly reconstructed intersection of West Arrowhead and Rice Lake Road/Arlington, I have noticed that the traffic lights will switch from solid yellow to flashing yellow when someone has passed through the intersection rather than slowing to a stop. Is this function granting an extra grace time or indicating a violation? Thank you for any information.
A: I believe you are seeing a new design feature by MnDOT for designated left turns. They do not detect violations. One of my partners was told by a MnDOT official that this is one of the biggest changes in traffic signal design in 40 years. When lit, the flashing yellow arrows allow drivers to make left hand turns — after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. It is extremely important for drivers to remind themselves that the oncoming traffic has a green light and the right of way. There will be a learning curve with this new feature.
Q: At the main post office in West Duluth, I see people park in the hash-marked area next to the handicapped parking (close to the door), and vehicle running, go in and pick up their box mail. This is early before regular post office hours. They are the same chronic offenders because I see them day after day. What potentially could the penalties be for this?
A: The exact penalty would depend on which statute the officer used, as there also may be municipal codes as well as state law. The fine is probably around $137.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.