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ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT: Can you drive with a pet on your lap?

Each week, Herald reporter Charly Haley answers your questions about local government, laws and other local topics.

Q. Are there any laws against driving with a pet on your lap?

A. Not specifically, but there can be legal consequences if the pet interferes with your driving.

In Grand Forks, a driver can be cited if the pet “interferes with the operation of your vehicle or obstructs your view,” according to Lt. Dwight Love, of the Grand Forks Police Department.

“It is a $20 ticket for the operator and a $20 fine for your pet for being an unqualified operator,” Love said.

The rules are the same in East Grand Forks, said Lt. Rodney Hajicek, of the East Grand Forks Police Department.

Hajicek couldn’t think of a time in the past 25 years when someone received a citation related to driving with a pet on their lap, but the ticket would probably be $137.50, Minnesota’s minimum fee, he said.

Hajicek added that common sense has to be used in those situations, so if your pet is affecting your ability to drive, you probably shouldn’t drive with it.

Q. Do the police ever give out tickets for loud exhaust from vehicles? Or for trucks with “Jake brakes,” regular loud cars or motorcycles?

A. Vehicles within Grand Forks city limits must have a muffler in good working order that prevents excessive or unusual noise or smoke, according to Love.

Also, the vehicle can’t have a “muffler cutout,” which would allow some exhaust to bypass the muffler, Love said.

“Usually, our officers stop the vehicle, and it becomes an educational moment and time is given to the operator to correct the problem,” Love said.

If the problem isn’t fixed, it’s a $20 fine, he said.

Also, the city of Grand Forks is working on amending its City Code to include a law against “Jake brakes,” or compression release engine brakes, for their loud noise.

Driving a vehicle emitting loud noise is also illegal in East Grand Forks, Hajicek said.

Police don’t issue many citations on it because drivers are usually given a seven- to 10-day warning on it first, Hajicek said.

If you’re stopped repeatedly for this, though, police will probably issue a ticket with a $137.50 fine, he said.

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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