by Joni Astrup
Police cited a 32-year-old Elk River woman for using a wireless communication device while driving after she was on a Zoom call while behind the wheel.
An officer had observed her with a cell phone in her hand and looking down while southbound on Zane Street in Elk River at around 11:30 a.m. April 6.
The officer stopped the vehicle in the Walmart parking lot.
“(The) driver was on a Zoom call and said she was working,” according to the police report. “The call was still active when (the) officer was speaking with the driver.”
In addition to that ticket, Elk River Police recently gave out a number of other citations for using a wireless communication device while driving, and heard varied reasons from drivers.
Among them were a 62-year-old Plymouth man who said he was on a website for trailer brakes, a 31-year-old Coon Rapids woman who was on the Google Maps website, a 43-year-old Nowthen woman who was searching for music and a 23-year-old Princeton who admitted checking a text message.
Asked how common such violations are, Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz said he thinks they are as common here as anywhere else.
“I am guessing that some of the tickets written recently were as a result of a directed shift to work hands-free violations,” he added.
Minnesota’s hands-free law went into effect Aug. 1, 2019. Here’s a recap of what you can and cannot do, according to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.
What can I do under the new law?
The new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Remember, hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free.
What can’t I do with my phone under the new law?
You may not hold your phone in your hand. Also, a driver may not use their phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.
Can I ever hold my phone?
Yes. Hand-held phone use is allowed to obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
For more information about the hands-free law, go to https://tinyurl.com/bb4cchhn.
Boy, 4, not seriously injured in fall from second-story window
A 4-year-old Elk River boy escaped serious injury after falling from a second story window Saturday, April 3.
Police were called to the 10000 block of 181st Lane in Elk River on a welfare check after the fall. The parent had taken the boy to the hospital and later reported that he had fractured toes, but no other injuries, according to the police report.
Man, homeless, wants to go to jail
A man who stole bread from Walmart in Elk River and then returned it told police that he wanted officers to take him to jail.
Police had responded to the store shortly before 11 p.m. April 6, where the 26-year-old man stated that he was homeless and had no one to help him. Officers recommended a homeless shelter in St. Cloud and the man agreed to go there. Police coordinated with the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office and provided a courtesy transport to St. Cloud.
Looking at phone, man rear-ends vehicle; two go to hospital
One vehicle rear-ended another after the driver looked at his phone to check for directions to McDonald’s.
The crash happened when a Mercury Mountaineer driven by a 38-year-old Elk River man had been stopped, facing north, on Line Avenue at Fifth Street, preparing to turn left. The other vehicle, a GMC Acadia driven by a 41-year-old Ramsey man, was also north on Line Avenue when he looked at his phone to check the GPS app and rear-ended the Mountaineer. He was cited for failure to drive with due care, Kluntz said.
The driver of the Mountaineer was cited for driving after revocation. He and his passenger were also transported to the hospital.
ThinkPad computer stolen from vehicle
A black Dell ThinkPad computer was reported stolen from an unlocked vehicle while it was in the parking lot of the Elk River Golf Club, 20015 Elk Lake Road. The computer is valued at approximately $1,000.
The theft was reported at 7:25 a.m. April 5.
Speeding driver is arrested for DWI
An 18-year-old Elk River woman was arrested for DWI, underage drinking and driving and speeding, Kluntz said.
Police had stopped her vehicle just after midnight April 4 after an officer clocked her going 63 mph in a 30 mph zone near Highway 10 and Jackson Avenue in Elk River.
Grass fire reported
A grass fire was reported at 3:32 p.m. April 3 in the 21000 block of Fresno St. in Elk River.
Police officers, firefighters and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded. The fire was eventually controlled and put out.