Ask a Trooper: What are the legal ramifications if someone is stopped for drinking with a child in a vehicle?

Sgt. Jesse Grabow of MN State Patrol

Q: At a recent gathering, a friend related a story to me that really surprised me. He was traveling along a local road at night when a car came toward him with his high beams on. My friend flashed his high beams to ask him to switch to lows, but the car ignored him. So my friend flashed them again, and again the car ignored him. After he passed, the car that was behind the “offender” made a U-turn and turned his flashers on. It was a patrolman.  

He did not give my friend a ticket but said it was illegal in Minnesota to flash your high beams at oncoming cars. Can that possibly be right? If so, what are we supposed to do in that situation as some high beams, especially on some trucks, can be very blinding?

A: A person is not allowed to “flash” their headlights at another vehicle, even if that vehicle has its high beams on. When meeting a vehicle in Minnesota, dim your headlights to low beams at 1,000 feet (even on a divided roadway.) Also use your low beams when you’re following another vehicle at 200 feet or less.

If an approaching vehicle is using its high beams, don’t look directly into the oncoming headlights – look toward the right of your lane (the white line near the shoulder) as a reference. Watch the oncoming vehicle out of the corner of your eye. Do not try retaliating against the other driver by keeping your high beams on or by flashing them. If you do, both of you may be blinded, and it could make a bad situation worse.

For glare caused by headlights from behind you, use a “day-night” mirror or re-adjust your regular mirror.  — Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol

Editor’s note: 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, Minn. 56501-2205.  Or he can be reached  at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us.

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