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It has been brought to my attention that in rural Minnesota we appear to have an issue with new drivers and with some of their parents.

Since school has started I thought this a good time to remind everyone that those under age 18 with a provisional driver's license or permit may not operate a vehicle while communicating over, or otherwise operating, a cellular or wireless telephone, whether handheld or hands free when the vehicle is in motion. (There is an exemption allowed for emergencies.) Now a youngster being 20 minutes late getting home from a date may constitute an emergency on dad's part, however it does not on Trooper Andy's. Get the hint?

The real issue I want to address is this: according to MN statute 171.055 subd 2 (d) "For the first six months of provisional licensure, a provisional license holder may not operate a motor vehicle carrying more than one passenger under the age of 20 years who is not a member of the holder's immediate family. For the second six months, the holder of the license may not operate a motor vehicle that is carrying more than three passengers who are under the age of 20 years and who are not members of the holder's immediate family. This paragraph does not apply if the provisional license holder is accompanied by a parent or guardian." Clause (e) "For the first six months of provisional licensure, a provisional license holder may operate a motor vehicle between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., only when the license holder is:

(1) Driving between the license holder's home and place of employment;

(2) Driving between the license holder's home and a school event for which the school has not provided transportation;

(3) Driving for employment purposes; or

(4) Accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years of age."

As you can see the law restricts the number of passengers and times our new drivers can drive. It appears some parents are letting their youngsters carry more passengers as a convenience. Should your son/daughter get a ticket for violating a restriction on their license that is what you may call a black mark? A couple of tickets and that could mean a longer provisional license period or even loss of license. This is not to mention what may happen if there is an accident and your insurance company finds out they were driving in violation of their license restrictions. Take that thought up with your insurance agent.

Mom and dad, we need you to step up and be the parents here. When that youngster took their first steps you didn't turn your back and just let them go. Same thing here! They are just learning and you need to monitor them closely for a while. Also according to statute 169.90 sb 2 "It is unlawful for the owner, or any other person, employing or otherwise directing the driver of any vehicle to require or knowingly to permit the operation of such vehicle upon a highway in any manner contrary to law."

With that law in mind Trooper Andy believes we should not just charge the youngster but also charge the parents with "owner allowing illegal operation." Call me a hard-butt if you will but, what are you teaching your kids? It is a dangerous world out there so be careful.

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,