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Ask a Trooper - Know the laws before customizing your vehicle

Question: I'd like to put some lights on the running boards of my pickup. Are there any laws on this?

Answer: Yes, there is a law in reference to this. According to Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.59 Subd. 2, "Any vehicle may be equipped with not more than one running board courtesy lamp on each side thereof, which shall emit a white or yellow light without glare."

Question: I have an aftermarket license plate bracket but I'm not sure if it's legal. I heard somewhere that they are not allowed. Could you explain this for me?

Answer: Without seeing the backet, I couldn't tell you. I will explain what M.S.S. 169.79 Subd. 7 states: "All plates must be (1) securely fastened so as to prevent them from swinging, (2) displayed horizontally with the identifying numbers and letters facing outward from the vehicle, and (3) mounted in the upright position.

The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible and unobstructed and free from grease, dust or other blurring material so that the lettering is plainly visible at all times.

It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters and numbers or the name of the state of origin of a license plate with any material whatever, including any clear or colorless material that affects the plate's visibility or reflectivity."

So this aftermarket license plate bracket cannot cover any of the assigned letters, numbers, or the state of origin. Assigned letters and numbers also includes the tabs that must display the month of expiration in the lower left corner of each plate and the year of expiration in the lower right corner of each plate.

This is where I notice most of the issues with the aftermarket brackets. Many end up covering those tabs. Even some of the brackets that have made attempts to display the tab areas have left too much still obstructing the tab letters and numbers. This will require the owner to take it upon themselves to trim that out, so those tab areas are completely unobstructed.

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