It’s not often we hear of drivers frustrating law enforcement because they don’t drive fast enough, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals today ruled the state has the right to strip the driver’s license of anyone who refuses officers’ orders to drive faster.
The court ruled in the case of Gary Constans of Lester Prairie, who has been stopped numerous times for driving too slowly.
Constans claimed he drives slow because his truck has high mileage, telling a Carver County sheriff’s deputy that he was driving 40 miles per hour along the shoulder of the highway once because he was trying to find “the sweet spot for gas mileage.”
He got numerous warnings, saying he sets his cruise control at 48 mph and drives slowly to keep from hitting “critters,” but finally the Department of Public Safety pulled his driver’s license until he started driving 55 on 55 miles-per-hour roads.
Officials noted Constans wasn’t under the influence of anything. He just drove too slowly.
Constans claims evidence of impaired driving is required before driving conduct can be found to endanger public safety in Minnesota. But the Court of Appeals says the public safety commissioner can pull the license of anyone he/she believes “is inimical to public safety.”
In his appeal, Constans contended he should get his license back because there’s no proof he poses a danger to the public, and he pointed out he didn’t get a ticket after any of his encounters with police who were trying to get him to go faster. But the court rejected the notion, saying “whether Constans’ conduct was dangerous to the public is not determined by the number of citations reflected on his driving record.”
“Indeed, the record shows that Constans not only drives slowly, but that he believes that his own reaasons for driving slowly outweigh any safety concerns he causes,” Court of Appeals Judge Margaret Chutich wrote in her decision today. “Constans is capable of driving the speed limit; he testified that he does so when he drives to visit family in California, southern Minnesota, and North Dakota. Constant knows the rules of the road but he chooses to ignore them, despite increased risk to the public.”