Trooper Kathy comments on flashing high beams to oncoming traffic

By Sgt. Kathy Pederson, 

Minnesota State Patrol

Dear Trooper Kathy: 

Is it illegal to flash your headlights at an oncoming car that has failed to dim their bright headlights? If so, can you point me to the correct Minnesota law? Thank you.


Trooper Kathy says: 

I am guessing you are referring to the practice of flicking low beams to high beams, then back to low beams. It MAY be illegal, depending on how close you are to the oncoming vehicle.

Yes, it is illegal to flash your high beams at oncoming vehicles when they are within 1000 feet. That is approximately 20 stripes on the highway.

The law states, “When the driver of a vehicle approaches a vehicle within 1,000 feet, such driver shall use a distribution of light so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver.”

 When coming up on a vehicle, though, distances are different. 

The law says, “When the driver of a vehicle follows another vehicle within 200 feet to the rear, except when engaged in the act of overtaking and passing, such driver shall use a distribution of light permissible other than the uppermost distribution of light.” 


Dear Trooper Kathy: 

Running lights (lights that come on when the vehicle is started, NO TAILLIGHTS)

It would be nice if you informed the population that, although running lights are nice, when there’s fog, rain, dusk, and any other situation where you need lights, they’re not good. They only light the front of the vehicle.

When lights are needed and you approach a vehicle from the rear, in some situations you don’t see that vehicle until you’re right up on their bumper.

The message should be, if you need lights, PUT THEM ON! Now is the season, with the weather being like it is, that many people do not turn lights at all, and that they feel that they are safe because their vehicle comes with headlights that turn on automatically. Not true. Please inform the general public. The ones that don’t listen are not going to turn on their headlights anyway. Thank You



If you have any questions regarding traffic safety and/or traffic laws, please email her at Sgt. Pederson will not offer advice on specific situations or real events, which involve law enforcement.

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