Minnesota’s hands-free law makes it illegal for drivers to read, send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. It’s illegal for drivers under 18 to use a cell phone, even hands free, except in emergency situations.
The minimum fine for a first ticket is $120. Subsequent offenses start at $300. You may also face increased insurance rates. If you injure or kill someone while driving distracted, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
Teen Driver Laws
For the first six months they have their licenses, teen drivers cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m., except in the following circumstances:
- They are accompanied by a licensed driver age 25 or older.
- They are driving to and from their home and place of employment, or for employment purposes.
- They are driving between their home and a school event for which the school has not provided transportation.
During the first six months, Minnesota law also limits teen drivers to one passenger under age 20. For the second six months of licensure, the limit is three passengers under age 20. The limit does not apply if a parent or guardian is present, or if the teen passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family.
Statute of Limitations for Claims
In Minnesota, you have six years following an incident to file property damage claims and two years for personal injury claims. If you wait longer, your insurance company isn’t obligated to pay for your claim.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
If your insurance provider wants to cancel your insurance policy midterm, it has 59 days to notify you prior to the effective date, regardless of whether the cancellation is due to nonpayment of premiums. If the company decides not to renew your policy at the end of its term, it must give you 60 days’ notice prior to the policy’s expiration date.
Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in force for over 60 days, except in the following circumstances:
- You don’t pay the premium.
- You have committed fraud or misrepresentation on your application.
- Your driver’s license has been revoked or suspended.
In contrast to cancellation, non-renewal means that either you or your insurance provider has decided not to renew the policy once it expires. Insurance companies must give you notice and explanation in order to drop your policy. A provider might not renew your policy because it no longer offers that type of insurance, it doesn’t want to write so many policies in your area, or you have a drunk driving conviction.
Minnesota allows individuals who own more than 25 vehicles to self-insure their vehicles. To do so, they will need to provide proof that their current net worth (or equivalent) is at least $5 million.
Car Inspection Requirements
Minnesota does not require yearly inspections for personal vehicles. That said, it’s still important to keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance.
An SR-22 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate — proof of minimum insurance. In many states, you must carry an SR-22 after certain convictions, such as drunk driving. However, Minnesota is one of six states that do not require this form.
Defensive driving is an approach to driving that uses specific strategies to avoid hazards on the road. Taking a defensive driving course may lower your insurance costs. After a traffic violation, the court may require you to take a defensive driving course. In Minnesota, defensive driving courses are four to eight hours long and available both in person and online.
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
Because Minnesota is a no-fault state, you have a limited right to sue for injuries and other noneconomic damages after an accident. In order to sue, you’ll need to reach either a monetary threshold of $4,000 (meaning you lost at least that amount) or a serious injury threshold of 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement. If you don’t meet these thresholds, you won’t be able to file a civil suit against the other party.
Accident Reporting Requirements
In Minnesota, you must report an accident to the police if it involved injury or property damage worth over $1,000, or if someone died in the accident. You have up to 10 days after the accident to report it. If you don’t, the state could suspend your license.
Unfortunately, like most states, Minnesota allows insurance companies to discriminate based on credit score when determining your premiums. The state also allows companies to discriminate on the basis of gender, so men pay more for car insurance in Minnesota.
When Is a Vehicle Declared a Total Loss?
A total loss means a vehicle’s repairs will cost more than the state’s threshold. In Minnesota, if the repairs cost more than 70 percent of the car’s actual market value, it’s declared a total loss.
For example, if your vehicle’s actual market value is $10,000, and the repairs cost $7,000 or more, it’s a total loss. Your insurance company will pay out the car’s market value unless you have gap insurance or new car replacement coverage, which accounts for depreciation and helps you purchase another vehicle.