Ask a Trooper: Who can pull me out of the ditch?
Question: During the last snow storm I went in the ditch and got stuck. I wanted my friend to come with a tow rope and pull me out. The officer that was there said that was not allowed. What is the deal with that?
Answer: Every incident is different. Without knowing the complete story and having all the information it comes down to the law and safety.
It is illegal in Minnesota for the public to use the highway or right-of-way if it causes a danger to other motorists.
Generally speaking, a tow rope requires the person doing the towing to get momentum with the vehicle and jerk the other vehicle out (from the snow, mud, etc.) which can send either or both vehicles out of control and into traffic. On busy highways, poor road conditions, weather, limited visibility, and many other safety factors, there is too much risk involved. I've personally witnessed something go wrong in these types of situations.
It's best to leave these types of situations to the professionals who are equipped with cables and winches that allows for control and stability of the vehicle's removal in a safe and timely matter, along with emergency lights. Law enforcement works crashes, spin outs and other incidents to help protect the people involved, the property and all of the motoring public, we don't want to see good Samaritans get hurt along the way.
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).