Ask A Trooper: Questions about teen drivers
Question: Is there a presentation provided by law enforcement for new teenage drivers? Can a driver, under the age of 18 with a valid permit, tow a trailer in Minnesota?
Answer: A driver who is under the age of 18 with a valid permit or provisional driver's license may operate a vehicle towing a single trailer as long as they comply with all of the license restrictions and requirements. If towing a recreational vehicle combination of three, the operator has to be at least 18 years of age. Please keep in mind that this is a Minnesota law and may not be legal if traveling into other states. If you are planning on traveling through other states, check with their officials on their state towing laws.
Teen Driver Safety
I have helped present on teen driver safety for the past several years, and law enforcement's goal is to reduce all teen-related crashes through education and enforcement.
The graduated driver's licensing (GDL) law requires driver education programs to offer a 90 minute class for parents of teens who are in the process of obtaining instruction permits and provisional driver's licenses. This class provides information regarding teen driving risks, teen driving laws and adult influences on teen driver behaviors.
The parent awareness class is critical to understanding today's teen driving risks, Minnesota's teen driving laws, and how to help your teen become a safer driver. As a parent, don't put convenience ahead of safety. Just because teens have their licenses doesn't mean they're ready for every driving situation. Parents should continue to supervise their teens driving after they're licensed.
The GDL law also requires that students under the age of 18 submit a supervised driving log to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test for the provisional driver's license. The log must verify the student completed 50 hours of supervised driving time, 15 of which must be nighttime hours. If a parent/guardian completes the parent class and submits a certificate of completion to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test, or if it was submitted when applying for an instruction permit, 40 hours of supervised driving time are required, 15 of which must be nighttime hours.
The key to developing safer teen drivers is to provide supervised experience — a lot of "windshield time," discuss driving responsibilities with your teen, establish clear family driving rules and follow through with consequences when warranted. We encourage parents to practice with their kids well beyond the minimum requirements of the law to ensure they're prepared to drive in many driving and weather conditions. The extra required driving practice hours and the supervised driving log help teen drivers become more experienced and help parents track progress and areas to improve.
For additional information on teen driving and laws, go to: dps.mn.gov/DIVISIONS/OTS/TEEN-DRIVING/Pages/default.aspx
A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, firstname.lastname@example.org).