Ask A Trooper Neil Dickenson

Q: 

I have a 2018 Jeep Wrangler which has a windshield that has the ability to fold down from the factory. I am just wondering if the windshield is properly folded down and strapped as per the factory design if this is then legal to drive on highway, county or state roads in Minnesota. While I doubt I’ll ever be zipping down I-35 with the windshield down, it would make it a lot easier driving between off road trails to not put it up and down, but don’t want to break the law. 

I could only find the statute that indicates that if you do have a windshield you need to have wipers. So it sounds like there isn’t a law per se that says “Shall have a windshield on all on road vehicles”, so I am assuming if the vehicle wasn’t designed to have one (like a motorcycle) it’s not required. 

However, it doesn’t appear to specify what the rule is when you have a windshield, but the factory designed it to fold down. So the law is kind of grey in my mind and I hoped you could advise how the State Patrol approaches this law or rules for highway use. 

A: We get this question fairly often, and it brings out some good discussion. When it comes to a windshield in a passenger vehicle, you are required to have one. Under Minnesota State Statute 169.468 it states, the commissioner has adopted federal motor vehicle safety standards, which is where it states a windshield is required (in the federal law.)

For the purposes of your windshield being a “fold down from the factory” this is for “off road use”.

Motorcycles may or may not have windshields, but even when they do, they do not meet legal requirements, and a rider must wear eye protection.

Q: 

It seems like I am still seeing drivers holding their phone. Has law enforcement seen any progress with the hands free law? 

A: 

Minnesota’s hands-free cell phone law just turned one year old on Aug. 1, and it’s safe to say the novelty has worn off and people may be getting complacent. Drivers may be slipping back into old habits, risking their own lives and those of their fellow motorists.

Granted, law enforcement officers throughout Minnesota have seen more drivers using hands-free options like mounts and holders for their phones. But they’ve also seen drivers who have these options but are holding their phones anyway. Some of those cited for breaking the hands-free law say they’re having a hard time breaking the habit, or they think law enforcement isn’t conducting traffic stops during the pandemic. But the fact remains that 40 people die every year on average because someone chose to drive distracted. And although the numbers of hands-free citations went down during the pandemic, they popped right back up again after the reopening: June 2020 saw 1,656 citations – five more than October’s 1,651 citations.

If you’re already on the hands-free bandwagon, thank you for being here. Speak up and talk to your friends and family about using voice commands on your phone. Tell your neighbors and coworkers about the cell phone holder that clips to your dashboard. Mention HandsFreeMN.org. And while you’re at it, tell everyone that the penalty for not being hands-free while driving can be more than $120 for a first offense (including the fine and court fees), which can climb to more than $300 after that (fine and court fees). 

Even though the law is only one year old, our work to ensure our roads are free from distracted drivers will keep going. If we all work together, we can ensure that no one has to get the devastating news that their loved one died because a driver was posting on Snapchat or live-streaming videos. It will take some long-term changes. You will have to break some old habits – for good. But it’ll be worth it.”

Send questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 or neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.

 

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