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Minnesota New Resident Guide

Welcome to Minnesota! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Minnesota. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • New residents have a 60-day grace period in which to register their cars, passenger vans, 3/4 ton or less pickups, motorcycles, utility trailers or house trailers as long as the displayed license plates are current. If your registration expires before the 60-day grace period is up, you must obtain Minnesota registration at the time of expiration. If the registration currently displayed on the vehicle is expired, or if you had to surrender your license plates in your previous state of residency, you must apply for Minnesota registration immediately.
  • You have 60 days after becoming a resident in Minnesota to obtain your Minnesota license or permit if you have a valid driver's license or instruction permit from another state.
  • Minnesota law requires that you apply for a new driver's license within 30 days of changing your name or address.


Graduated Licensing Program



Instruction/Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • Must be 15 years of age
  • Must have completed 30 hours of classroom instruction and be enrolled in behind-the-wheel instruction
  • Must have passed eye exam and written knowledge test

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only drive accompanied by a certified driver education instructor, the permit holder's parent or guardian, or another licensed driver 21 years of age or older. The adult licensed driver must be sitting in the passenger seat next to the permit holder.
  • May not use or talk on a cell phone while driving, with or without a hands-free device
  • Every occupant must wear a properly fastened seat belt or use a properly fastened child restraint system

Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must have held permit for 6 months with no convictions for moving or alcohol/controlled-substance violations.Must have accumulated at least 30 hours, 10 of which must be at night, of parental/guardian certified driving
  • Must have completed classroom and behind the wheel phases of driver education
  • Must pass road skills test

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive between midnight and 5 AM
  • May transport no more than 1 passenger under age 20 for first 6 months of licensure and no more than 3 passengers under age 20 for the next 6 months. Family members are exempt.
  • May not use or talk on a cell phone while driving, with or without a hands-free device
  • Every occupant must wear a properly fastened seat belt or use a properly fastened child restraint system

Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must have held provisional license for 12 consecutive months
  • May not have been convicted of a crash-related moving violation or an alcohol/controlled substance violation during that time
  • No more than one conviction for a non-crash moving violation


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



Minnesota does not have a point system, but traffic violations are still recorded on your driving record.



Insurance Requirements



Minnesota requires all licensed vehicles to have PIP, Liability, Uninsured, and Underinsured coverage in the following amounts:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $40,000 per person per accident ($20,000 for hospital/medical expenses and $20,000 for non-medical expenses such as lost wages, replacement services, etc.)
  • Liability: $30,000 for injuries to one person $60,000 for injuries to two or more people $10,000 for physical damage to the other driver's vehicle or for damage to property
  • Uninsured: $25,000 for injuries to one person $50,000 for injuries to two or more people
  • Underinsured: $25,000 for injuries to one person $50,000 for injuries to two or more people


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 1,000 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • Your headlights must be turned on at sunset and used until sunrise
  • During weather conditions that include rain, snow, hail, sleet, or fog
  • Any time you cannot clearly see the road ahead for a distance of at least 500 feet

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that briefly flashing one's high beams at another driver within the distance where high beams are prohibited, without evidence that the flashing was "glaring" to the other driver, was not a violation of the law.



Implied Consent Laws



Criminal penalties same as DWI penalties

  1. Fourth Degree DWI(no aggravating factors387) (misdemeanor) - Not more than 90 days and/or not more than $1,000.
  2. Third Degree DWI (1 aggravating factor) (gross misdemeanor) - Not more than 1 year and/or not more than $3,000.
  3. Second Degree DWI (2 or more aggravating factors) (gross misdemeanor) - Not more than 1 year and/or not more than $3,000.
  4. First Degree DWI (felony) - within 10 years of the first 3 or more prior DWI incidents; or previously convicted of felony DWI; or previously convicted of DWI homicide - Not more than 7 years and/or not more than $14,000.

Administrative

  • First refusal - Revocation not less than 90 days
  • Refusal occurring within 10 years of a prior impaired driving - Revocation not less than 1 year and until the court has certified that treatment or rehabilitation has been successfully completed
  • Second refusal (within 10 years of first) - Revocation not less than 2 years and denial of license until rehabilitation has been established
  • Third refusal (within 10 years of first) - Revocation not less than 3 years and denial of license until rehabilitation has been established
  • Fourth refusal (within 10 years of first) - Revocation for not less than 4 years
  • Fifth or subsequent refusal - Revocation for not less than 6 years

Conditional Release

  • Unless maximum bail is imposed, a person charged with a drunk driving or implied consent offense may be released from detention only if such person agrees to abstain from alcohol and submit to electronic monitoring, involving at least daily measurements of the person's alcohol concentration, pending resolution of the charged offense.


DUI Penalties



Some penalties are determined based on the number of aggravating factors. Others are determined based solely on number of previous offenses.

Aggravating factors

  • Qualified prior DWI incidents within 10 years of current offense
  • BAC of .20 or higher at the time or within 2 hours of the offense
  • Having a child under 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense, and such child is 36 months younger than the offender

Types of offenses based on number of aggravating factors

Fourth Degree DWI (no aggravating factors) (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 90 days imprisonment
  • Up to $1,000 fine

Third Degree DWI (1 aggravating factor) (gross misdemeanor)

  • 30 days - 1 year imprisonment
  • Up to $3,000 fine

Second Degree DWI (2 or more aggravating factors) (gross misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • Up to $3,000 fine

First Degree DWI (felony)

  • Within 10 years of first 3 or more prior DWI incidents, OR previously convicted r felony DWI, OR previously convicted of DWI homicide
  • Up to 7 years imprisonment
  • Up to $14,000 fine

Number of offenses

First offense

  • No mandatory minimum imprisonment
  • At least 30 days license revocation (180 days if under 21)

Second offense (within 10 years)

  • Minimum 30 days imprisonment
  • At least 1 year license revocation

Third offense (within 10 years)

  • Minimum 90 days imprisonment OR 6 days of incarceration followed by intensive probation
  • At least 3 years license revocation

Fourth offense (within 10 years)

  • If first degree DWI, not less than 3 years
  • Minimum 180 days imprisonment OR 6 days of incarceration followed by intensive probation
  • At least 4 years license revocation

Fifth or subsequent offense (within 10 years)

  • If first degree DWI, not less than 3 years
  • Minimum 1 year imprisonment OR 6 days of incarceration followed by intensive probation
  • At least 6 years license revocation

Other

Community service

  • Court may permit an offender to perform community service in lieu of a fine

Alcohol education and treatment

  • In some cases, court may stay imposition of jail sentence or fine if defendant submits to treatment as recommended/required

Ignition interlock

  • Under certain conditions, reinstatement of driving privileges is available with installation of ignition interlock device

Child endangerment

  • Driving with a child under the age of 16, with such child being more than 36 months younger than the driver is an "aggravating factor." This may increase the crime to a gross misdemeanor.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



Minnesota does not have a state law governing red light fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.



Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to two times the original fine, or an additional fine of $25, whichever is larger.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • All vehicles, except emergency vehicles, must yield the right-of-way to a funeral procession when all its cars are in close formation with headlights lit.
  • All vehicles must observe the signal at intersections controlled by traffic lights.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway.
  • Vehicles are required to stop at least 20 feet from the bus.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of not less than $300, and suspension of your driving privileges.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



A 3-foot minimum passing distance is required.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • A person operating a motorcycle upon a roadway must be granted the rights and is subject to the duties applicable to a motor vehicle as provided by law.
  • No person can operate a motorcycle or motor scooter on any street or highway without having a valid standard driver's license with a 2-wheeled endorsement.
  • A 2-wheeled endorsement will be issued if the applicant has a valid 2-wheeled vehicle instruction permit and has passed a written examination and road test administered by the Department.
  • If the applicant is under age 18, he or she must also successfully complete an approved 2-wheeled vehicle driver safety course.
  • The Department can issue a 2-wheeled vehicle instruction permit to any person over 16 years of age who is in possession of a valid driver's license, is enrolled in an approved 2-wheeled vehicle driver's safety course (if under age 18), has passed a written examination for the permit, and has paid all necessary fees.
  • A person who has an instruction permit cannot carry any passengers while operating the motorcycle, cannot drive the motorcycle at night, and cannot drive the motorcycle on any interstate highway.

Protective Gear

  • Anyone under the age of 18 riding a motorcycle and all operators of motorcycles with instructional permits must wear protective headgear.
  • All motorcycle operators must wear protective eye wear.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight is required by state law.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do not pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve where the driver's view is obstructed within 700 feet
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any underpass or tunnel

When being passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle

Exceeding speed limit to pass:

The speed limit is increased by 10 MPH over the posted speed limit when the driver:

  • is on a two-lane highway having one lane for each direction of travel;
  • is on a highway with a posted speed limit that is equal to or higher than 55 miles per hour;
  • is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction of travel; and
  • is following all other laws


Speed Limits



  • A speed in excess of the following limits is prima facie evidence that such a speed is not reasonable and prudent.
  • 1) 70 mph on interstate highways outside urban area limits;
  • 2) 65 mph on non-interstate freeways and highways and interstates within urban area limits;
  • 3) 55 mph on highways in all other locations;
  • 4) 35 mph in a rural residential district if adopted by the road authority having such jurisdiction;
  • 4) 30 mph in an urban district;
  • 5) 25 mph on residential roadways (effective if adopted by jurisdiction and signs posted)
  • 6) 10 mph in alleys
  • 7) 10-30 mph in manufactured home parks (Is 10 MPH unless increased by local ordinance, may be increased up to30 MPH)
  • 8) 10 mph in recreational camping areas.
  • The speed limit is increased by 10 MPH over the posted speed limit when the driver:
  • (1) is on a two-lane highway having one lane for each direction of travel;
  • (2) is on a highway with a posted speed limit that is equal to or higher than 55 miles per hour;
  • (3) is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction of travel; and
  • (4) is following all other laws


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 7 years and younger who are more than 57 inches, and occupants 8 and older, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger or less than 57 inches must be in a child seat, and are not permitted to use adult safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $50.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle
    • Towing vehicle
    • Freeway service patrol vehicle
    • Road maintenance vehicle
    • Construction vehicle
  • You must do the following:
    • Safely move the vehicle to the lane farthest away from the emergency vehicle, if possible
    • Safely move the vehicle so as to leave a full lane vacant between your vehicle and any lane in which the vehicle is completely or partially stopped, if possible
  • A separate law requires you to drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching or passing an authorized emergency vehicle stopped with lights flashing on any street or highway.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled
  • If the accident has resulted in injury or death, you must report the accident immediately to the local police, the State Patrol, or the county sheriff.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name, address, and date of birth
    • Vehicle registration number
    • Show driver's license upon request
    • Name and address of insurer providing liability coverage
  • Provide reasonable assistance to any individual injured in the accident.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information or report it to the nearest police officer.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner if possible of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. You must also make a written report.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must file a written report with the commissioner of public safety within 10 days.


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