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Published March 22, 2012, 10:16 PM

Minnesota students push to overturn legislative immunity law

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - It has taken a group of Minnesota college students to push for a change in a bizarre law still on the books. In the Minnesota legislature, there is an age-old benefit that is still part of the state's constitution. Lawmakers are immune from arrest and prosecution of most offenses, including DWI.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

It has taken a group of Minnesota college students to push for a change in a bizarre law still on the books. In the Minnesota legislature, there is an age-old benefit that is still part of the state's constitution. Lawmakers are immune from arrest and prosecution of most offenses, including DWI.

The privilege known as legislative immunity takes effect when any lawmaker in Minnesota is in session at the capitol in St. Paul. Concordia-St. Paul college students recently heard about a legislator bragging he could drink and drive with no threat of arrest. Those students are now behind the push to change the immunity law.

In a Moorhead History class today students, like many others we spoke with, had never heard of the law.

Ryan Olson – Moorhead Senior High: “I think equality is an important thing and when you hold people to different standards I think it is a weird situation. Obviously it’s an old law; it’s archaic. Times are changing and I think it would be appropriate for everyone to be on the same standard.”

Kathryn Eggert – Moorhead Senior High: “It is absolutely ridiculous. Lawmakers should be held to the same standard as the rest of the population.”

Minnesota is not the only state in the country with immunity laws. In fact, many states right now are looking at overturning these laws thanks in part to a younger generation opposed to drinking and driving and the good old boy network. And what about the Minnesota college students just out of high school behind the push to repeal the immunity law?

Devon Manney – Moorhead Senior High: “The power for the betterment of something and taking a stand for something.”

Andrew Carlson – Moorhead Senior High: “That is how we get stuff started in America is by new people coming in and doing that and especially this generation that is a good sign that is happening; that younger and younger people are starting to change stuff.”

The immunity clause is in the Minnesota State Constitution, but it is unclear just how many lawmakers have ever used it. Some wonder just how sympathetic a state trooper would be to a state lawmaker that asked for immunity after being pulled for DWI.

The students have appealed to a state lawmaker who is sponsoring a bill to restrict immunity among legislators.

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