After a search, we did not find any laws prohibiting changing lanes in an intersection in Minnesota.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get after ticket changing lanes in an intersection.
This article explains why that’s the case and looks at any related statutes for driving, lane changes, and more.
Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Minnesota? (EXPLAINED)
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Where Are The Laws That I Can Look To In Order To Confirm Whether Lane Changes In An Intersection In This State Are Legal/Illegal?
We were unable to find a law in the Minnesota statutes that specifically prohibits lane changes in intersections.
There were plenty of statutes governing intersections, maintaining the lane, and using care.
For example, specifically, the 169.15 statute confirms the need to completely pass through an intersection, or not to proceed at all:
Subd. 2.Intersection gridlock; stop or block traffic. (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a driver of a vehicle shall not enter an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal until the driver is able to move the vehicle immediately, continuously, and completely through the intersection without impeding or blocking the subsequent movement of cross traffic.Source: Minnesota Statute 169.15
While we found no laws relating to lane changes in an intersection, part of a legal statute made mention that operating a vehicle or halting a vehicle unsafely constitutes careless driving:
§Subd. 2.Careless driving. (a) Any person who operates or halts any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the driver or passengers of the vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor.Source: Minnesota Statute 169.13
More questionable vehicle handling is also addressed, especially with the potential to cause harm to people or property.
This falls under reckless driving:
Subdivision 1.Reckless driving. (a) A person who drives a motor vehicle or light rail transit vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property is guilty of reckless drivingSource: Minnesota Statute 169.13
The Minnesota Statute 169.19 relates to turning and taking other actions at an intersection. Appropriate signaling, disallowing of most U-turns, and course changes.
Below was the most relevant part of this statute relating to intersections:
Change of course. No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required in this section, or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until the movement can be made with reasonable safety after giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.Source: Minnesota Statute 169.19
Lastly, the approach to an intersection is discussed within statute 169.20 under Right of Way.
Why Do People Generally Think That It’s Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection?
It is rare to observe another driver changing lanes when driving through an intersection; typically, they wait to execute the lane change until afterward.
Sometimes, it’s only in a situation like a stolen vehicle, a joyride by teenagers, or a criminal who is actively evading pursuing authorities who will do so.
Due to the rarity of seeing it, and perhaps because it increases the chances of getting into an accident, drivers mistakenly assume it’s illegal.
However, in most states such as in Minnesota, it remains legal to do so.
But If It Is Not Illegal In Minnesota To Change Lanes In An Intersection, Why Did I Get A Ticket?
The number of statutes on the books for driving is more extensive in Minnesota than in some other states.
Additionally, they cover more potential eventualities and possible outcomes too.
This provides greater latitude for peace officers, as they’re referred to under Minnesotan state law, to pull drivers over for safety violations and other driving concerns.
Predominantly, but not exclusively, law enforcement officers are concerned with the safety of road users and nearby pedestrians too.
Any actions behind the wheel that bring safety into question may create a scenario where you would get stopped, questioned, and potentially ticketed.
What Happens If A Car Accident Results?
The situation becomes more serious should a car accident occur somewhere in the intersection.
Because it is unusual, it begs the question, “Why did this happen?”
Usually, with accidents, there is property damage, and you or another driver or passenger may have been injured too.
In the above scenario, it elevates the situation to one where mounting a defense may be required.
To protect yourself and be more aware of your rights, hiring a Minnesota personal injury lawyer or a Michigan criminal defense lawyer (or someone who does both) is recommended.
Also, as they will no doubt inform you, taking photographs and/or video at the scene will prove useful too.
Documenting whatever you can is beneficial for any legal or insurance issues that subsequently arise.
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