Ask a Trooper - What do troopers do about misaligned headlights?
Question: Why does the car with the headlight out get pulled over and is given a fix-it ticket and cars with misaligned headlights (that shine right in your face and almost blind you)are not told correct that with a fix-it ticket? Personally, I would rather meet a one headlight car than misaligned lights.
Answer: This is a good topic. I'm not quite sure why you feel that misaligned headlights are not being enforced but I can tell you from my experience, members of law enforcement are out enforcing on Minnesota roads.
Having a headlight out is an obvious equipment issue. But when it comes to alignment, it may not always be as clear to law enforcement on patrol and can appear subjective. Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.60 says about "Distribution of Light:" "Except as hereinafter provided, the headlamps, the auxiliary low-beam lamps, or the auxiliary driving lamps, or combinations thereof, on motor vehicles shall be so arranged that the driver may select at will between distributions of light projected to different elevations, subject to the following requirements and limitations:
(a) There shall be an uppermost distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed and of such intensity as to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 350 feet ahead for all conditions of loading.
(b) There shall be a lowermost distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 100 feet ahead; and on a straight level road under any condition of loading none of the high-intensity portion of the beam shall be directed to strike the eyes of an approaching driver."
M.S.S. 169.61 Composite Beam states: (a) When a motor vehicle is being operated on a highway or shoulder adjacent thereto during the times when lighted lamps on vehicles are required in this chapter, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, directed high enough and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a safe distance in advance of the vehicle, subject to the following requirements and limitations.
(b) When the driver of a vehicle approaches a vehicle within 1,000 feet, such driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver.
(c) 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 under this chapter other than the uppermost distribution of light specified in section 169.60.
Having come into contact with several misaligned headlights, I have found it is usually a result of the headlight simply needing to be adjusted; sometimes involving more substantial body work from damage received. A lot of the time it is an issue of a very heavy load they are hauling in the rear portion of the vehicle. I advised the driver that they will need to correct this action and provide some advice how or where they can do this depending on the issue causing the misalignment. Sometimes it just requires adjusting the load. Others may need either a mechanic or an auto body specialist.
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to Trooper Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes MN 56501-2205. Or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.