Ask a Trooper: All brake lights must be operational on cars

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianso

Troy Christianson


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?

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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.

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 who 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 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

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 St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at