Ask a Trooper: Vehicles must have working horn

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Question: I noticed that the horn on my vehicle does not work. Is there a law that says a vehicle must have a working horn and when it can be used?

Answer: According to state law, your vehicle must have a horn that’s “in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet. The horn or other warning device must not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.”

I believe the definition of whistle is quite clear, and use common sense to determine if a horn is unreasonably loud or harsh. If it’s too loud or harsh, it could violate a local noise ordinance.

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Minnesota law says it’s legal to honk a horn when it’s “reasonably necessary to insure safe operation” on the road. For example, that’d include warning other vehicles, pedestrians or animals as needed to avoid a crash.

If it’s not a safety situation, it’s illegal to honk the horn on the road. Excessive or illegal use of the horn could result in a road rage scenario, so only use it when needed for safety.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

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 MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,