Ask A Trooper: All brake lights must be working

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Question: Is it a violation if the third brake light quits working on a passenger vehicle?  What about a vehicle that is equipped with a brake light(s) that flash or pulsate?

Answer: The state statute says that a vehicle equipped with stop lamps or signal lamps shall at all times be maintained in good working condition. So all brake lights, including the third one, would have to be operational when activated.

Flashing lights are prohibited, except on an authorized emergency vehicle, school bus, bicycle, road maintenance equipment, tow truck or towing vehicle, service vehicle, farm tractor, self-propelled farm equipment, rural mail carrier vehicle, funeral home vehicle, or on any vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn.

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Frequently walk around your vehicle and check all the lights, turn signals, license plate lights and high beams. Replace all faulty lights as soon as possible for your safety and others that share the road. Remember that cracked tail lenses must be replaced so the white light does not illuminate through.

Law enforcement officers conduct traffic stops due to many types of equipment violations. The most common ones that I see are:

•Headlights/Taillights out

•Cracked tail lenses

•Rear license plate lights out

•Cracked windshield

•Window tint violations

•Suspended objects from rearview mirror

•No seatbelt use

•Bumper height violations

•Unsecured loads

The Minnesota State Patrol does not issue, “Fix It Tickets.”  All of our traffic stops are stored in our computer system, so all MSP past contacts can be viewed by troopers on current traffic stops. For example, if a vehicle was stopped for a window tint violation and that vehicle is stopped again, that trooper can see if a citation or warning was issued and when it occurred. This helps us make the decision if a citation or warning will be issued due to prior contacts with that vehicle and driver.

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,