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Ask A Trooper: Is it a violation if the third brake light stops working?

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?

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 that 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 that 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

The Minnesota State Patrol does not issue, "Fix It Tickets." All of our traffic stops are stored in our computer system, so all MSP past contacts can be viewed by Troopers on current traffic stops. For example, if a vehicle was stopped for a window tint violation and that vehicle is stopped again, that Trooper can see if a citation or warning was issued and when it occurred. This helps us make the decision if a citation or warning will be issued due to prior contacts with that vehicle and driver. Do your part by driving safe and staying alert in an effort to help us reduce traffic crashes in Minnesota.

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. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).