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Parents can phase in beginning drivers' full privileges; smoked tail lamps unsafe

Ask a Trooper
Sgt. Troy Christianson
Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: I heard you on the radio the other day. You were talking about new, young drivers having some restrictions on their driver’s license. You mentioned something about a parent being able to take their license away. Could you explain more about that?

Answer: I was talking about graduated driver license (GDLs) laws, which support a three-stage driver licensing system to phase in young beginners to full driving privileges. It helps teens hone their driving skills during the first year of licensure by reducing exposure to high-risk situations such as carrying teen passengers and driving at night.

The three stages are the supervised learning (instruction permit) phase, the intermediate (provisional license) phase, which limits unsupervised driving in high risk situations, and the full licensure phase.

Minnesota teen drivers are overrepresented in traffic crashes due to inexperience, immaturity, distractions, night-time driving, speeding and lack of seat belt usage. Young drivers tend to overestimate their own driving abilities and, at the same time, underestimate the dangers on the road. Teens are more likely than older drivers to take risks such as speeding, because they are inexperienced behind the wheel. Teens are much less able to cope with hazardous driving situations.

In-vehicle distractions, especially teen passengers, can increase the risk of crash by distracting the driver and by creating peer pressure to take more risks behind the wheel.

To answer your question, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) has a “Withdrawal of Parental Consent/Voluntary Surrender” form.

The withdrawal of parental consent form can be used by a parent or legal guardian to cancel the driving privileges of their teen who is under age 18. The form can be signed only by the parent or guardian who signed the application that originally granted consent for their minor child to drive.

Unlike revocations or suspensions resulting from violating laws or at-fault crashes, cancelling driving privileges is not viewed negatively by insurance companies or the state licensing agency. There is no fee for withdrawing parental consent or reinstating driving privileges after cancellation. Under no circumstances can a cancelled driver legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. Driving with a cancelled driver’s license can result in criminal and civil penalties, and higher insurance rates.

Find the form on the DVS website


Question: Are smoked tail lights illegal in Minnesota?

Answer: Minnesota law states that “tail lamps shall be plainly visible from a distance of 100 feet to the rear during normal sunlight and at night.” The same goes for turn signals and headlights. Smoking, tinting, covering or placing any material over tail lights, brake lights, headlights or turn signals would be illegal and unsafe as they would not be plainly visible.  It is illegal in all 50 states, because it is a major safety concern.

I recommend getting into the habit of checking and keeping your rear lights clear of any snow, mud, dirt, dust or anything that can obstruct your lights.

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 Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,         

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