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Mini-truck usage, fines (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Mike Cook
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Generally sold as off-road vehicles for farms and construction sites, some people use fuel-efficient mini-trucks for other everyday needs, even though the vehicles are not allowed to be on roads.

Law enforcement is concerned the approximately 2,200-pound vehicles, that resemble a pickup truck or van, donít meet federal safety standards for highway use, nor do they meet federal emissions standards. Small cars, such as a Ford Focus or Honda Civic, weigh in the 2,600-pound range.

Sponsored by Rep. Brita Sailer (DFL-Park Rapids) and Sen. Dan Skogen (DFL-Hewitt), a new law authorizes mini-truck operation on local streets and highways, under a special permit issued by the local unit of government.

The special permit will be similar to what is now provided for motorized golf carts and certain all-terrain vehicles. Unlike operators of golf carts and eligible all-terrain vehicles, mini-truck operators must have a driverís license and can drive the vehicle at night.

The law also identifies required equipment for mini-trucks operated under the special permit, including headlamps and taillights, turn signals, rear view mirrors, a windshield, seatbelts and a parking brake.

This section of the law is effective Aug. 1, 2009, and expires on July 31, 2012.

Those same effective dates apply to a provision prohibiting law enforcement agencies from mandating a quota for administrative citations.

The provision is part of HF1517/SF1894, sponsored by Rep. Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph) and Sen. Tarryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud). It allows peace officers to authorize administrative citations for certain traffic violations. Hosch said more than 100 cities now use the practice with different enforcement and fine rules.

A person who commits an administrative violation ó such as driving less than 10 mph over the speed limit, failure to yield, stop sign violations or equipment violations ó will be fined $60. Two-thirds of the fine will be credited to the local unit of government and one-third to the stateís General Fund.

The administrative fine language takes effect Aug. 1, 2009.


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