Most Common Legal Trivia Questions

Q: Can I get a DWI on my horse?
A: No, a horse is not a motor vehicle under Minnesota law. You don’t need a license to “drive” one, either. In fact, I once had a guy whose license was revoked show up for his court date on a horse.

Q: Can I get a DWI on my lawnmower?
A: Yes, and I’ve seen it twice before, although in each case the driver was mowing a city street instead of his lawn.

Q: Can I get a DWI on my bicycle?
A: No.

Q: Can I get a DWI, even if I’m on private property?
A: Yes. DWI laws apply everywhere in Minnesota, on land, on the water, in the air and on ice.

Q: Can I drive barefoot?
A: Yes, but it’s probably not a great idea in January. Driving with winter boots or high heels should be illegal but isn’t, either.

Q: Can I drive around with people in the bed of my pickup truck?
A: Yes. If you’re in the back seat of a Hummer, you have to be belted in. If you’re in the bed of a rusty 1978 F-150, sitting on the wheel well, you’re good to go.

Q: Is the speed limit really the number on the black and white sign?
A: No. In 18 years as a prosecutor, I only saw one ticket written out where the driver’s clocked speed was less than five miles per hour over the posted speed limit. In that case, the driver passed a State Patrol Officer (who was evidently in a really bad mood), going the same direction on I-94 at 72 mph.

Q: Is the speed listed on the yellow and black signs on curves enforceable?
A: Technically, no, it’s a suggested “safe” speed. Of course, travelling at any speed that isn’t reasonable for the conditions is a violation of Minnesota’s speed law. Drivers should keep at least two wheels on the ground.

Q: Can a Conservation Officer (game warden) look through my freezer without a warrant?
A: Absolutely not. A game warden has no more power to search a private vehicle, shed, or home than does any other police officer. Unless you voluntarily agree to a search (which, for some reason, people always do), both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions require the game warden to get a warrant before he or she digs through your freezer to see if that package of crappies is labeled correctly.

Q: Do cops give other cops speeding tickets?
A: No.

Q: How old do you have to be to buy “near beer” or non-alcoholic beer?
A: There is no age restriction; a four-year-old can buy near beer, although why anyone of any age would choose to purchase that product is a mystery.

Q: If I run a yellow light, am I in trouble?
A: No. As long as your front bumper is actually in the intersection when the light turns red, it’s not illegal. You can enter the intersection on a yellow light.

Q: Do I have to make a complete stop at a stop sign?
A: Yes. When I was 16, I was stopped by a State Patrol Officer for rolling a stop sign. He had me stand next to his squad and was chewing me out when I offered the only defense I thought I had. “But I slowed down!” He looked at me for few seconds and said, “Put your hands on the hood of the squad.” I did. He took out his night stick and started smacking my hands. While doing it, he said, “Now – do you want me to stop or slow down?” (Thanks to Trooper Kermit Matyas for that one.)