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New Minnesota minimum fine for work-zone speeding takes effect Friday

Greg Bresser of Mora, Minn., seals the newly constructed road on Main Avenue in Moorhead on Monday, July 28, 2014. A Minnesota law takes effect Friday that raises the minimum fine for speeding in a construction zone to $300. Besser has been working construction for 35 years, and in that time, he's seen fellow workers struck by mirrors of passing cars to the dividing barrels after passing cars hit the warning devices. Nick Wagner / The Forum

MOORHEAD – Minnesota will soon have one of the nation’s stiffest minimum fines for speeding in a work zone – a move that officials hope will help reduce crash numbers.

Starting Friday, a driver caught speeding in a construction area with workers present will face a ticket of at least $300, with the cost increasing depending on the driver’s speed, said Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Legislators passed the tougher fine this year. Currently, speeding fines double in work zones and there’s a $25 minimum, Grabow said.

“For years, you did hear that fines doubled in work zones. But for a lot of people, they didn’t know what that meant maybe because they didn’t necessarily know what a speeding ticket cost,” he said.

Minnesota aside, 32 states have laws that double speeding fines in work zones, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Many states have minimum fines; Illinois ($375) and Indiana ($300) are the highest, the association said. North Dakota has an $80 minimum fine for speeding in a construction area.

Along with a steeper fine for work-zone speeding, Minnesota’s new law creates a $300 fine for drivers who don’t abide signals from construction workers directing traffic.

“Safety in the work zone is one of our top priorities,” Sue Groth, state traffic engineer, said in a statement. “We hope this new increased fine will draw the attention of motorists to slow down when driving past workers.”

From 2010 to 2013, work-zone crashes resulted in 31 fatalities, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. During the same time period, there were more than 7,200 crashes in construction areas.

Last year in North Dakota, there were 248 work-zone crashes, with two fatalities among them, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Other Minnesota laws taking effect Friday:

  • The state’s minimum hourly wage increases from $6.15 to $8, eventually reaching $9.50 by 2016.
  • A law regulating toxic chemicals includes a ban on retail sales of triclosan, an antibacterial compound used in soaps. Although the law takes effect Friday, the triclosan ban does not start until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • An expansion of the state’s hit-and-run law requires drivers in a crash to stop and investigate what was struck. The law also expands the conditions that require a motorist to stay at the scene.
  • To aid the crackdown on synthetic drugs, a law broadens the definition of such a drug to include “any compound, substance, or derivative which is not approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration or specifically permitted for human consumption by Minnesota law,” and when taken creates an effect similar to other drugs regulated by law.

Source: Minnesota House of Representatives