Weigh station regulations

Question: What are the rules about who has to pull into a weigh station?  Two specifics, a 3/4 ton pickup, licensed as a car, with a heavy trailer, and an RV-type camper?

Answer: If the vehicle or combination of vehicles is in excess of 10,000 pounds actual weight or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), then it needs to enter a weigh station.

When it comes to driving a motorhome or pulling a fifth wheel or travel trailer, it all depends on the GVW. Generally speaking most of the RVs on the road today are not considered a CMV and do not need to pull into a weigh station.

As far as pulling a trailer with a pickup truck and the trailer does not exceed or have a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, and you are not for hire, you will also not need to stop at a weigh station. Remember all trailers with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or more must be equipped with brakes on all wheels. All trailers that are required to have brakes must also be equipped with breakaway brakes.

Who is required to obtain a USDOT number?

All interstate motor carriers operating any of the following vehicles must obtain a USDOT number:

• A vehicle or vehicle combination greater than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight,

• A vehicle of any size required to display hazardous materials placards,

• A vehicle designed or used to transport more than eight passengers, including the driver, for compensation,

• A vehicle designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not for compensation.

• All intrastate motor carriers operating a truck or truck-tractor having a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds must obtain a USDOT number. USDOT numbers must be displayed on vehicles operated intrastate.

• The requirement to obtain and display a USDOT number does not apply to a farm truck that is operated intrastate.

If you plan on traveling through other states, check with those states as each could have different rules when it comes to CMV requirements. Below is a link for each state’s Department of Transportation websites: www.fhwa.dot.gov/about/webstate.cfm

When you have questions or you are not sure if the vehicle you are driving meets the criteria for an inspection or if it needs to be weighed, pull into the scale and inquire.  Minnesota state law only exempts state, county or municipalities from weigh stations.

Emergency stopping

Question: I recently saw someone pulled over to the side on the freeway with a flat tire. I pulled over also to approach them. Was what I did illegal?

Answer: This is legal as you were stopping on the freeway to offer assistance and this would fit under the “emergency stopping” criteria in the law.

Minnesota law does not allow motorists to stop on a freeway unless it is for an emergency. Signs are posted at all entrance ramps onto the freeway. Pedestrians, bicycles, motorized bicycles and non-motorized traffic also are prohibited onto the freeway.

If your vehicle ever becomes stalled on a roadway, attempt to move your vehicle out of the lanes of traffic and as far off onto the shoulder as possible. Activate you four-way flashers and call for assistance if needed. Tow truck operators will change the flat tire for you or tow your vehicle to a safe location where it can safely be changed. If you plan on changing a flat tire and you are in a dangerous section of the road, we can provide emergency lights and assistance, but the best and safest option is to call for a tow truck.

While waiting for assistance to arrive, stay in your vehicle and put on your seatbelt. In the event that your stalled vehicle is ever struck, being inside your vehicle with your seatbelt on can save your life and keep you from being injured.

If you are approaching a stalled vehicle and see someone changing a tire or working on their vehicle on the roadway, slow down and move over for them, just like you would for an emergency vehicle.

Driver’s license rules

Question:  I recently moved and I am living with a cousin of mine in Minnesota. I am writing to you concerning driving legally within the state. Back in my native country, Kenya, I am licensed to drive and currently I have that license with me. I also obtained an international driving permit from the necessary licensing body back in Kenya. Are these documents sufficient to allow me to drive within the State of Minnesota before I am able to acquire the state’s driving license? Thank you for your time and consideration.

Answer: If you are visiting from another country with a valid driver’s license from your home country, you are not required to get a Minnesota license, and can operate a vehicle legally in our State.

Once you become a Minnesota resident, you have 60 days to get a Minnesota driver’s license.

Also, many insurance companies do not honor an “out-of-country licenses”. Being that auto insurance is required to operate a motor vehicle, you would need to get a Minnesota driver’s license or ask them about your options.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. (You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us).

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