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Ask a Trooper: Tow dolly can be used for non-running vehicle as long as criteria are met

Ask A Trooper
Lead Summary
Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol

Q: If I rent a properly licensed and lighted tow dolly from a rental company, can I tow a non-running vehicle that is not licensed (no current plates) and not insured?  Do I need taillights in addition to the dolly lights?
A: First I will explain what a tow dolly is for those that may not know. A tow dolly is little more than two wheels, an axle and a tow-hitch used to tow a front-wheel drive suspension vehicle behind a recreational vehicle or other larger vehicle. It is generally designed to tow a vehicle with the front wheels on the tow dolly. To answer your question, I would say you can do this as long as you’re meeting the following criteria:
•The vehicle you are using to tow the dolly is properly registered, insured and legal to tow the non-running vehicle (hitch, weight ratings, etc.).
•The dolly is properly registered and has the required dolly lights and reflectors.
•If the non-running vehicle sticks out beyond the dolly, it must be equipped with at least two tail lamps on the rear. The lamps must be on the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practical.
You may want to talk with your auto insurance agent about insuring the non-running vehicle. Even though the towing vehicle has insurance coverage, it might not apply if something happened to the non-running vehicle.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, Minnesota 55901-5848, or reach him at

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