Ask a Trooper: When can a vehicle horn be used on the road?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2021

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Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

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?

Troy Christianson

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

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.