Ask A Trooper

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: I was wondering what the state guidelines are regarding smoked or tinted headlights. Are they legal? 

Answer: Minnesota law does not allow for this. It is illegal to equip or operate a motor vehicle with any equipment or material that covers a headlamp, tail lamp, or reflector. 

I’d also like to remind drivers about when headlights and taillights need to be on. Minnesota law says that every vehicle on a roadway shall display lighted headlamps, lighted tail lamps, and illuminating devices from sunset to sunrise. The law also applies when it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing and at any time when visibility is impaired by weather or insufficient light at a distance of 500 feet ahead.

Many vehicles are equipped with basic automatic headlights. The headlights turn on when sensors on the dashboard detect a certain level of darkness or the level of ambient light. However, there are limitations to automatic headlights. Drivers might assume the sensors will activate all of the vehicle’s lights in reduced visibilities, but that is not always the case. Instead, drivers should use the conventional headlight switch to manually turn on their lights.  

A good rule to follow — if your wipers need to be on, your headlights, taillights and marker lights should be on as well. Also, make it a habit to check your lights often to ensure all of them are properly working.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.