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No tire studs allowed in Minnesota

Question: I'm pretty sure that Minnesota law states that only chains are allowed, not "studded" tires for Minnesota highways during the winter driving season. Does this mean you can operate a vehicle on gravel roads with studded tires and not break any laws? What is the fine for breaking this law?

Answer: That time of year has come again. Statute 169.72 covers tires with studs and chains and according to subdivision 1 (c) Except as provided in this section, no tire on a vehicle moved on a highway shall have on its periphery any block, stud, flange, cleat, or spike or any other protuberances of any material other than rubber which projects beyond the tread of the traction surface of the tire. It shall be permissible to use any of the following on highways: implements of husbandry with tires having protuberances which will not injure the highway, and tire chains of reasonable proportions upon any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, ice, or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid.

Subdivision 4 states; Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision 1, a person, operating a motor vehicle properly licensed and registered in another state or province of a foreign country which authorizes the use of tires with metal studs or wire embedded tires on its highways, may operate the motor vehicle with tires having metal type studs or with tires having wire embedded therein on the highways of this state while occasionally within the state, and such use while occasionally within the state is not unlawful; provided that, the metal type studs shall not exceed 5/16 of an inch in diameter inclusive of the stud casing with an average protrusion beyond the tread surface of not more than 7/64 of an inch, and the number of studs in a tire shall not exceed two percent of the total net contact area.

Use of a vehicle in this state on more than 30 days in any consecutive six-month period is not occasionally. Except, a person whose regular place of employment is within the state or who is a student at an educational institution located within the state, shall not operate a vehicle, regardless of its place of registration, upon any highway within the state if such vehicle is equipped with tires which would be unauthorized were the vehicle registered in this state.

You got stuck on the term highway. According to statute 169.01 sb 29 "Street or highway" means the entire width between boundary lines of any way or place when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for the purposes of vehicular traffic. So a gravel road is legally known as a highway and therefore "NO" you cannot use studded tires on a gravel road. As mentioned chains of reasonable proportions may be used when "required for safety because of snow, ice, or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid" and I want to point out that claiming they are "required for safety" from December to April will not work. That is basically for a temporary use in a limited area due to specific circumstances.

Here are some simple tasks to help you avoid being in a crash: turn on your lights; drive sober; stop talking on the cell phone; slow down; and because not every driver out there is as careful as you, buckle up.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or e-mail