Ask a Trooper
Question: I have a question about how the speed laws pertain to county deputies from another county. I drive truck for a living and on many occasions I have been passed by a county deputy, in a squad car, and not in their own county, at a high rate of speed. My speed is about 58 mph and I would estimate their speed at 75 plus. I could understand if they were responding to an emergency in their own county, with lights and siren, but they did not have lights and siren on. I don't want to step on any toes or offend any officers because I have the utmost respect for the people in uniform. I think your job is hazardous enough the way it is without adding to the hazards on the road, especially when it is raining. This question doesn't have to be published unless you think it is important to explain to the public. Thank you for your service to the people and to all the people in uniform, thank you and stay safe.
Answer: Since I was not there and do not know the reasons for any of the times you witnessed this behavior I cannot comment on those exact instances. I get the feeling that your question is about whether the speed limit does or does not apply to officers in their squads when not on emergencies. The answer is very simple: YES IT DOES! I will not cover everything here but those statutes that I feel cover your area of concern. According to statute 169.03 sb 1, "The provisions of this chapter applicable to the drivers of vehicles upon the highways shall apply to the drivers of all vehicles owned or operated by the United States, this state, or any county, city, town, district, or any other political subdivision of the state, subject to such specific exemptions as are set forth in this chapter with reference to authorized emergency vehicles." Subdivision 5 states, "No driver of any authorized emergency vehicle shall assume any special privilege under this chapter except when such vehicle is operated in response to any emergency call or in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law." Minnesota statute 169.17 states, "The speed limitations set forth in sections 169.14 to 169.17 do not apply to an authorized emergency vehicle responding to an emergency call. Drivers of all emergency vehicles shall sound an audible signal by siren and display at least one lighted red light to the front, except that law enforcement vehicles shall sound an audible signal by siren or display at least one lighted red light to the front. This provision does not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of persons using the street, nor does it protect the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the consequence of a reckless disregard of the safety of others."
My advice to you is when you observe this behavior please call the Sheriff of the department vehicle you witnessed and explain what you saw. Call them immediately if you can but otherwise note the date/time/location for when you can call but do so as soon as possible. It may be that the officer is within legal right and it may be that he/she is not. Their supervisor should be interested and is the one to handle that matter. I have said it before and I will say it again: All you officers out there. The public is watching you and me and they have expectations of us. One of those is that we set the example. So set a good example.
According to the Ted Foss law, when on a multi-lane road and approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side, with lights flashing, drivers are required to move over if possible. State Troopers are out there to help and protect you. Please help keep us safer by giving us that room, when safely possible, for our safety. Our families also thank you. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trp. Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or reach me at, email@example.com.