Minnesota Court Records
What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions in Minnesota?
Traffic violations in Minnesota are more severe than infractions and are considered a crime because such offenses violate the Traffic Regulations of Minnesota. Drivers that commit traffic violations in Minnesota may be arrested on the spot or issued a traffic ticket by law enforcement officers. Traffic tickets sometimes require that the offender pay a fine or appear in the district court. Penalties are usually disclosed in the citation given, an traffic fines can be paid online through The Minnesota Judicial Branch.
In contrast, traffic infractions are the least severe traffic offense. Although infractions are acts prohibited by the law, they are never considered a crime. The penalty for traffic infractions in Minnesota is a fine via traffic tickets. However, individuals guilty of infraction cannot be jailed, have a jury trial, or fined large amounts.
Also, citations that are thought to be minor, if not dealt with properly, may have significant consequences on a driving record, which can translate to higher insurance rates. State statutes, enacted by the Minnesota State Legislative Arm, dictate the traffic laws which guide the conduct and duties of motorists on the highways, including up-to-date vehicle and license registration, vehicle size and weight restrictions, and insurance registration.
What Are Felony Traffic Violations in Minnesota?
Serious traffic violations are considered misdemeanors and felonies in Minnesota. However, a felony traffic violation is more severe as it results in a person being injured, the property being destroyed, or poses threats to either life or properties. Felonies traffic violations are punishable with jail terms of more than a year, fines depending on the crime as well as probation time. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division, felony traffic violations may stay on a person’s record for 5–10 years.
Examples of Felony Traffic Violations in Minnesota
The following are examples of traffic violations in the State of Minnesota;
- Criminal vehicular homicide
- Driving with an invalid or suspended driver’s license
- Reckless driving
- Driving without Insurance
- Repeated offense or multiple DUI convictions
What are Traffic Misdemeanors in Minnesota?
Traffic violations are typically classified as petty offenses, which may result in traffic tickets that must be paid off. Nevertheless, if the traffic offense is serious, then it may lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. The penalties for traffic misdemeanors include community service, fines, probation, or a couple of months in jail. Misdemeanors stay on a driving history record for life unless a petition is filed at the court. In Minnesota, misdemeanors are classified into three different categories.
Petty Misdemeanor: This is the lowest form of offense and is not considered a crime; hence, there is no jail time. However, traffic offenders must pay a fine of about $300 or less, and there are no probations. Speeding is an example of petty misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor: Guilty persons may be incarcerated for about 90 days, fines are about $1000 or less, and probation lasts for about one to two years. An instance of a misdemeanor is driving under influence for the first time.
Gross Misdemeanor: Regarded as a serious crime and offenders will serve a jail term. Fines are about $3000 or less, and probation is for 3–6 years. An example is a second time DWI.
Examples of Traffic Misdemeanors in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, traffic misdemeanors include;
- Careless driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving without insurance coverage
- Passing an emergency vehicle
- School bus stop arm violation
- Driving without license
What Constitutes a Traffic Infraction in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, traffic infractions are considered as one of the most common offenses, which are punishable with fines of up to several hundred dollars, while more serious offenses like hit and run or destruction of properties attract imprisonment. Traffic infractions are divided into four classes according to the severity of the offense. The classes are; petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and felony offenses. Other sanctions applicable to infractions are loss of driving privileges such as suspension or revocation of the violator’s driver’s license.
Different types of citations are issued to individuals that commit traffic infractions, and according to the Judicial Branch in Minnesota, some citations are considered payable, therefore, a court appearance is not required. Some other traffic ticket may require settling with the administrative body of the town that issued the citation or court appearance after a summons is issued. The guilty party may choose to plead guilty or non-guilty as long as there are evidence and witnesses to support the claim. For transgressors that cannot afford the fine issued for traffic infraction or offense can contact a hearing officer, who may give favorable options depending on the facts of the case and traffic infraction history. The viable possibilities are a reduced fine, a payment plan, or community service.
Examples of Traffic Infractions in Minnesota
Some examples of traffic infractions in Minnesota are;
- Driving while intoxicated
- Running a red light
- Reckless or careless driving
- Speeding and exceeding the speed limits
- Leaving an accident scene
- Hands-free use of phone while driving
- Driving without or with expired vehicle registration
- Criminal vehicular homicide
- Driving without insurance
How Does Traffic Ticket Work in Minnesota?
A traffic ticket is a note handed over to road users after a traffic infraction or violation has been committed. The receiver has the option to either pay a fine or appear in court. Traffic tickets in Minnesota can be dismissed by;
- Requesting a court date to fight the traffic ticket at the traffic court, and enter a not guilty plea. This can only be done in person on the hearing date listed on the ticket.
- Getting a traffic ticket lawyer who is tasked with helping offenders understand why and how a traffic ticket was issued, while also developing a strong defense to get the ticket reduced or dismissed.
- Gathering and providing necessary evidence, witnesses, and arguments from the incidents before the judge. Afterward, the judge will make a decision based on the statements and give a verdict.
- Also, an individual may pay the fee on the traffic ticket while also requesting a continuance for dismissal, which will get the traffic ticket dismissed as long as the individual does not commit another traffic infraction or violation within a given timeframe.
Moving violations are traffic violations or offenses that occur while a vehicle is moving such as running a red light, driving while intoxicated, and speeding. On the other hand, non-moving violations often happen while a vehicle is in motion or not. Examples of non-moving traffic violations are the use of a mobile phone while driving, vehicle papers violation, driving without a seat belt, and parking violations.
Speeding tickets are issued when a driver is deemed to be driving at a speed more than is reasonable or prudent. There are absolute and presumed speed limits posted on roads in Minnesota to guide the drivers, and if found guilty of exceeding the limits, a ticket is recorded on the violator’s driving record as there is no point system in Minnesota. Furthermore, the offender’s license can be revoked for 6 months or more if the driver was going over 100 miles per hour or the person is a repeat offender. Speeding tickets in Minnesota generally have a fine attached depending on the excess speed over the limit. The corresponding fees are;
- For 1 to 10 mph over the speed limit - $120.00
- For 11 to 14 mph over the speed limit - $130.00
- For 15 to 19 mph over the speed limit - $140.00
- For 20 to 25 mph over the speed limit - $220.00
- For 26 to 30 mph over the speed limit - $280.00
- For 31 mph and over the speed limit - $380.00
The fines cover the speeding tickets only, and payments like court fees and higher insurance premium rates are part of the further consequences of a speeding ticket. Parking tickets are issued when a vehicle is parked on a street or road where the individual is expected to pay for space through the parking meters.
Are Traffic/Driving Records Public in Minnesota?
Under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, all public records maintained by government agencies in the state are accessible by members of the public except for a few exceptions. Minnesota driving records depict an individual’s driving history, and the records contain driver information like name, driver’s license number and status, address, traffic infractions, or violations. Despite the Data Practices Act making public records obtainable, Chapter 123, Section 2721 of the U.S. Code (Driver Privacy Protection Act) states that personal information in Division of Motor Vehicle records should be closed to the public and only persons that have met certain requirements should be given access to an individual’s driving record. The instances where access to driving record can be granted include;
- When it is the applicant’s record
- When there is a case of theft or a motor vehicle/driver safety issue and motor vehicle emission.
- During civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings in any federal, state, or local court.
- Use by insurance companies in connection with claims investigation, anti-fraud activities, rating or underwriting.
- For private investigations by authorized security services.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Find Traffic/Driving Records in Minnesota?
Minnesota driving records are preserved by the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services Unit (DVS), through the division of the Department of Public Safety. The DVS also has the authority to issue copies of a motorist’s driving record in the state, which is mostly a three-year extract. Types of driving record application that can be made include;
Commercial Inquiry: This covers requests made by commercial users that sign a legal access agreement and can face criminal or civil charges if the information accessed is misused as found under the U.S. Code title 18.
Individual Request: Individuals can request for Minnesota driving records by completing a record request form (PS2502),, and the reasons for which the record should be provided must be listed behind the form. The Driver and Vehicle Services Unit decides if the requester is eligible or not.
Government Agency Request: Law enforcement agencies and courts have access to Driver and Vehicle Services Unit computer records through a criminal justice computer network, which helps to get the information needed.
Crash Record Request: Requestor can complete the request form, which is used to obtain reports made by law enforcement agencies for crashes that occurred in Minnesota.
The attached fee for obtaining a copy of a driving record is $9 if requested by the subject of the record and $9.50 if requested by another party. For a certified copy of driving records, the charges include $10 if the bearer is the requestor and $10.50 for other applicants.
Minnesota driving records can be obtained in person at;
Driver and Vehicle Services—Central Office
Town Square Building
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 190
Saint Paul, MN 55101–5190
Can Traffic Violation and Infractions be Expunged/Sealed in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, certain traffic violations are classified as criminal offenses, hence, a request for expungement can be made to the courts to either seal or expunge the criminal record. However, expungement or sealing does not apply to driving history records, which are maintained by the Driver and Vehicle Services Unit, and the court cannot order expungement or sealing of driving records. The concerned individual can request for expungement separately at the Driver and Vehicle Services unit as the agency operates under separate methods.
All criminal records with the court, law enforcement agency, and the correctional facility are destroyed or sealed when an expungement order is given by the court. The expungement process for driving records also goes through the court, but only records maintained by the court and law enforcement are sealed and destroyed, as the judge has no jurisdiction over the Department of Public Safety.
Some traffic infractions that are not considered serious can be removed from a person’s driving record after some time has elapsed. In Minnesota, driving records are not shared during background checks by companies and individuals unless the motorist signs a release of information form. Traffic infractions that are classified as a misdemeanor or felony and result in criminal prosecution or being charged could have future consequences, and are therefore eligible for expungement or sealing by court order. Serious offenses like driving under the influence of substances, and vehicular homicide, remain on an individual’s driving records for life and may be used for future criminal or administrative charges.