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Ask a Trooper: ATVs and DWIs

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Question: I got a DWI recently and my driver’s license is revoked and I no longer own a motor vehicle. I do have an ATV and was wondering if I need a driver’s license to operate it.

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Answer: In general, a valid driver’s license “is required” to operate an ATV on a road right-of-way (ROW). A driver’s license is not required to operate an ATV on a designated trail that includes a ROW. Also, please be advised that a person can still be arrested for a DWI on an ATV. For more information on where you can drive an ATV, check out http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/index.html.

This question begs a good reminder to stress that impaired driving remains a major issue in our state. In the last five years, 651 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Each year, 30,000 people are arrested for DWI.

Question: Like most people, I notice that sometimes drivers forget to dim their headlights. Is it legal to “flick” from low beams to high beams as a reminder? I know it is probably not a good idea, but I just want to see what you have to say about it.

Answer: According to M.S.S. 169.61, if you are within 1,000 feet of an oncoming vehicle, you have to dim your lights. So, it would be “against the law” to put your bright lights on too. It would be legal if you are not within 1,000 feet, but it is not recommended to do so, for many reasons. One good reason is that it could spark a road rage incident. Another good reason is that you will have two blinded drivers coming toward each other (instead of just one) making for a bad situation. Also, the law does not differentiate between a two laned or four laned roadway when it comes to the dimming law.

What can you do then? When you are meeting the driver displaying bright lights, simply slow down immediately (because that’s a hazard) and look down and to the right near the fog line (away from the bright lights) until that vehicle passes by or dims their lights.

Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their own actions behind the wheel. If you want to be safer, drive with your headlights on all the time, but just be careful of those bright lights! Thanks for asking.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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