On August 1, 2017, several new laws became effective in the state of Minnesota. Some of these new laws relate to cases involving damage to public safety vehicles. It is important for individuals in Minnesota who have been charged with such an offense to understand some of the essential details about knowingly damaging a public safety motor vehicle. These laws do not apply to motorists who accidentally damage or are involved in accidents with public safety motor vehicles.
What Constitutes a Public Vehicle?
There are several types of vehicles that are considered public safety motor vehicles. These can include the following:
- Ambulances owned or leased by the state or a political subdivision. Vehicles that are equipped and specifically intended for emergency response or providing ambulance services are included in this category. These vehicles must be specially licensed. This license must list the vehicle’s base of operations, primary service area, and the type of ambulance service for which the company is listed.
- Marked vehicles used by law enforcement agencies.
- Specially marked vehicles that are owned or leased by the state of Minnesota or a political subdivision. There are some unique requirements for specially marked vehicles. Law enforcement is able to authorize the use of specially marked law enforcement vehicles to enforce highway traffic laws and ordinances. These vehicles are marked with the shield of the city or county and the name of the authorizing agency on the vehicle’s right front door. To be considered specially marked vehicles, these vehicles must be operated only by a uniformed officer.
- Vehicles involved in fighting fires including fire-suppression support vehicles that are owned or leased by the state or a political subdivision.
- Vehicles marked for use by conservation officers of the Division of Enforcement and Field Service of the Department of Natural Resources.
Applicable Law Concerning Knowing Damage to a Public Safety Vehicle
It is a gross misdemeanor to knowingly damage one of these vehicles and in Minnesota, it can result in individuals facing up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.
There are certain elements that must be met to satisfy this offense including that:
- The party who caused the damage must have known that the vehicle provided a public safety function.
- The damage must have caused a substantial impact on public safety.
- There must be damage to the public safety vehicle. Damage includes any type of impact that interferes with the way in which a vehicle can be used.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you are involved in an accident and have been charged with knowingly damaging a public vehicle legal counsel at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss online or by calling 701-235-8000 or toll-free at 877-235-8002.