Jaywalking tickets and fines possible, but not probable

Juanita Hernandez and her friend didn’t stop to assist a bicyclist injured in an accident. Instead, she and her friend continued walking across the intersection at Washington Avenue and Union Street, arguing about helping the bicyclist.
Hernandez, a senior in American Studies, said she didn’t remember the “Don’t Walk” sign flashing. But by the time they reached the other side of the intersection, the light glowed red.
That’s when a University Police officer stuck them with a jaywalking citation, an often overlooked offense.
Under Minnesota State statute 169.21, jaywalking is a petty misdemeanor and is subject to a maximum fine of $100. Hernandez said she bargained her fine down to $15 at the Hennepin County Violations Bureau.
Detective Charles Miner said jaywalking tickets are not that common.
“I tend to believe they are cited when pedestrians are obstructing traffic,” Miner said. He added that the department receives many complaints from both pedestrians and drivers.
The state enacted new laws to help organize busy intersections. Miner said more signs also have appeared in high-traffic crosswalks forcing vehicles to yield to pedestrians.
Officials placed these signs on Union Street near the Recreation Center and on Harvard Street between the Superblock and Fairview-University Hospital.
“The hospital has been complaining about people driving too fast,” said Sgt. Jo Anne Benson. “The speed limit is only 25 miles per hour.”
Benson said police used to patrol busy intersections around the University every afternoon.
“Seventeen years ago we regularly tagged people (for jaywalking),” Benson said. Police patrolled Church Street and Washington Avenue as well as 17th Avenue and Fourth Street. She said she doesn’t know why the practice stopped.
But she said today a pedestrian has to interrupt traffic to get a citation.
“Typically, we make sure people don’t throw themselves out into traffic.”