I've noticed recently more and more vehicles around Central Minnesota driving with colored headlights. If you don't know what I am talking about some people have installed aftermarket lights around their headlights that can either change color or are a solid non-white color. So I emailed St. Cloud's Police Chief Jeff Oxton about whether or not driving with these lights is legal.

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In his response, Chief Oxton didn't specify the legality of the headlights but did reference several state statutes that specify lights on a vehicle need to be white in color for the front and red in color on the back. I took that as you can legally have these on while parked, but not while the vehicle is being operated.

The statutes that Chief Oxton cited were:

Minn. Stat. 169.55 provides that at the times when lighted lamps on vehicles are required, each vehicle must be equipped with one or more lighted lamps projecting a white light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the front of the vehicle and a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. 

Minn. Stat. 169.468 allows the Commissioner of DPS to adopt vehicle safety rules in conformance with the federal motor vehicle standards.  These federal standards are found in 49 CFR Part 571.  These federal standards also require vehicles to have a white light projecting from the front of the vehicle. 

In addition, Minn. Stat. 169.64 specifically talks about prohibited lights and exceptions.  This statute provides that unless authorized by the Commissioner of DPS, no vehicle shall have a red light or any colored light except as provided in this statute.  The statute outlines exceptions for emergency vehicles, school buses, bicycles, tow trucks, garbage trucks, road maintenance equipment, farm equipment, mail delivery vehicles, certain collector vehicles, or funeral home vehicles.  This statute also prohibits vehicles from having equipment or material that covers a headlamp, tail lamp, or reflector unless it’s the manufacturer’s original equipment, the material is clear and colorless, or it’s a covering for auxiliary lights outlined in Minn. Stat. 169.56.

While they look pretty cool, when you put all that Chief Oxton sent to me together, those colored headlights are looking like they are illegal to drive with.

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