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Ask a Trooper: Need sober passenger?

Question: I've heard some people comment, or state in the past, that they have used their underage driver with a learner's permit as a designated driver after having a few drinks. To me, this sounds like it would be illegal, and if anything, just not good common sense. Does the adult riding with a teen on a learner's permit need to be sober by law?

Answer: No, they do not have to be sober. Yes, it does sound like poor common sense on the part of the one who would be involved in doing that, but that is just the way it is.

This is what Minnesota State Statute 171.05 Sub.2b says: "Instruction permit use by person under age 18. (a) This subdivision applies to persons who have applied for and received an instruction permit under subdivision 2.

"(b) The permit holder may, with the permit in possession, operate a motor vehicle, but must be accompanied by and be under the supervision of a certified driver education instructor, the permit holder's parent or guardian, or another licensed driver age 21 or older. The supervisor must occupy the seat beside the permit holder."

Sub.1 states the same if for those "Person 18 or more years of age. (1) has the permit in immediate possession and (2) is driving the vehicle while accompanied by an adult licensed driver who is actually occupying a seat beside the driver."

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or at