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Ask a Trooper: Who's allowed to tow vehicles out of a ditch?

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: During the last snowstorm, I went in the ditch and got stuck. I wanted my friend to come with a tow rope and pull me out. The officer who was there said that was not allowed. What is the deal with that?

Answer: Every incident is different. Without knowing the complete story and having all the information it comes down to the law and safety.

It is illegal in Minnesota for the public to use the highway or right of way if it causes a danger to other motorists.

Generally speaking, a tow rope requires the person doing the towing to get momentum with the vehicle and jerk the other vehicle out (from the snow, mud, etc.), which can send either or both vehicles out of control and into traffic. On busy highways, poor road conditions, weather, limited visibility and many other safety factors, there is too much risk involved. I've personally witnessed something go wrong in these types of situations.

It's best to leave these types of situations to the professionals who are equipped with cables and winches that allows for control and stability of the vehicle's removal in a safe and timely matter, along with emergency lights.

Law enforcement works crashes, spinouts and other incidents to help protect the people involved, the property and all of the motoring public. We don't want to see good Samaritans get hurt along the way.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to trooper@duluthnews.com or Sgt. Neil Dickenson — Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.

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