Although Minnesota has yet to issue a statewide “stay at home” order, considering the Governor recently said that 40-80 percent of Minnesotans should expect to get the coronavirus, it seems likely that an order will be made in the not-so-distant future. Our neighbors to the east in Wisconsin already have a stay at home order in place, and numerous cities and states around the country are following suit. This order means that you should stay at home unless you are performing “essential” activities, like providing essential labor, getting food or gasoline, taking the kids to daycare, etc.
But what happens if you decide to go somewhere for an activity that isn’t deemed essential? Can police pull you over and ticket you? We explain how a stay at home order would likely play out in Minnesota.
Stay At Home Order Penalties
When we look across the landscape of America, cities and states are handling and enforcing these orders a little differently. What follows is our best guess at what might happen if a stay at home order is made in Minnesota, but since it’s not yet in place, we can’t say for certain this is how it would play out. However, this is our best estimate based on how other states are policing the stay at home order.
For starters, police are not going to pull you over just because you are out driving your car, even if you’re driving outside what would be considered normal business hours. Essential business is performed at all hours of the night, so you’re not going to get stopped because you’re out driving at 11:00 p.m. at night. Similarly, you’re not going to be cited for stopping at the gas station or hitting up a McDonald’s. While those may not be actions of the utmost importance, eating and fueling up are still considered essential actions.
You can also still go out for a walk with your significant other or your dog. Exercise is being encouraged by many of the governors who put these orders in place, but still keep your social distancing in mind. Also, it’s worth checking to see if parks remain open. Although the DNR says that parks in Minnesota are still open and free to be enjoyed, many states have closed parks or severely limited their hours once orders were put in place. Avoid problems by making sure any park you want to walk through is still open if a stay at home order is put in place.
So while you’re still free to leave your home under a number of circumstances, you won’t have free reign to do whatever you please. Police do have the ability to issue monetary citations to individuals who are willfully ignoring the law. For example, if you and some buddies go to the park to play some basketball, and a police officers drives by, don’t be surprised if he stops to break up the game and potentially hand out some citations. Just today, we heard about a man in Spain who was cited for violating the stay at home order to play Pokemon Go! If you’re going outside for non-essential activities, police may opt to issue a small monetary fine.
Now, we expect police to be pretty lax with this, but they still are within their rights to ticket you. The last thing someone wants during this time period is to have to pay a fine for violating the stay at home order, but if people blatantly ignore the call to stay home, police will likely step up the tickets. Many places are stating that these citations could be $500 or more, but odds are a first offense base fine would top out around $100, and we’d expect it to be lower if we’re being honest.
Hopefully we don’t have to fight any of these citations in court, but if you need any kind of legal defense, reach out to the experienced legal team at Appelman Law Firm today.