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Minnesota Supreme Court rules that cars can be ‘dangerous weapons’

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Car Accidents

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently set a precedent that cars, when driven recklessly, can be dangerous weapons under the state’s criminal laws.

This ruling is a significant development in the legal interpretation of dangerous weapons. It expands the definition beyond guns and knives to include vehicles used in a hazardous way.

Unsafe use of vehicles

The court’s decision revolves around events in 2022 involving street races in Minneapolis. At the events, drivers blocked intersections and did donuts. During one event, a vehicle struck an observer. This incident, among others, prompted the court to examine whether using cars dangerously should lead to second-degree riot charges.

Cars as dangerous weapons

Justice Anne McKeig emphasized the harm to the observer as a key factor determining the vehicles’ status as dangerous weapons. The court concluded that the drivers’ actions were likely to cause death or great bodily harm. These actions met the second-degree riot charges criteria, meaning a participant either had a dangerous weapon during a riot or knew another participant did.

The defense argued that the vehicles were not intentionally directed at onlookers. However, the court focused on the potential outcome of the actions, not the intent to cause harm.

Implications of this ruling

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling warns against dangerous driving and signals that such actions can lead to serious charges. The decision also sets a legal precedent that can influence cases.

Awareness of this ruling could lead to heightened community awareness about the consequences of reckless behavior involving cars. Knowing that such actions can lead to major legal trouble might deter people from risky driving practices going forward.

As a Minnesota resident, it is important to understand the legal consequences of operating a motor vehicle recklessly or dangerously.