Passing on a shoulder is not legal

Q: Dear Trooper,

My husband and I have a cabin on the west side of Mille Lacs lake in Garrison. One day I had my neices up for some swimming and when we were done we waited on the side of the road, which is Hwy 169, for the cars to pass. The drivers of 4 cars were courteous enough to stop to let us cross. As we began to cross a 5th car decided to pass the 4 stopped cars on the shoulder side of the road. We would have been killed if I hadn’t jumped back and knocked the girls back down the hill toward the lake.

On a seperate occasion, in the same area, I saw a car in front of me do that same maneuver to a police car in front of him, that was slowing to make a left turn.

I thought it was illegal to pass on the shoulder. I pulled up to the patrol car in the gas station to ask the officer about it and he ignored me and kept walking.

Is this procedure of passing legal and if not is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening in front of my vacation home.

Thank you for your time and input.

Mora, MN



I am sorry for your experiences. Yes, passing on the right is NOT legal in Minnesota, unless there is a lane provided for that purpose, or if you are on a multi-lane roadway. Passing by using the shoulder (whether paved or unpaved) or turn lanes is NOT legal. We do write tickets for it, it is a moving vioilation that goes on your record and your insurance may go up if cited for it. I don’t know why the officer "ignored" you and walked away, except that it’s possible he could not hear you, or was on a mission of sorts, but he should have acknowledged you. Most violations like that have to be observed by police for us to enforce the law on them (there are some exceptions).

As far as what you can do about it? Nothing. We don’t have control over other drivers or their vehicles. We can only control ourselves and how we respond to others. If you are a pedestrian and it happens and you get a license plate, call the police and ask them to investigate for possible charges if you want, but you will have to testify if they charge and it goes to court. Prosecutors have to agree to charge in those cases too, and they will need a written statement from you as well. Thanks for writing, and good luck.

Sgt. Curt S. Mowers
Public Information Office
MN State Patrol

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