Icy vehicle windows and Minnesota law


From: Sgt. Troy Christianson
Minnesota State Patrol

Question: The other day at an intersection I noticed a car with the windows so frosted up that the driver had to roll down a window to check for cars coming from my side. What is the law on frosted windows?

When I received this question my initial thoughts were of a fatal pedestrian crash that I had been called to. I was the crash reconstructionist at an incident where an elderly woman walking across a busy intersection on her way to church was struck by a driver who was late for work. He didn’t see the woman in the roadway, consequently striking and killing her. The driver had not scraped his windshield properly, thus had limited visibility.

Answer: Minnesota Statute 169.71 subdivision 3 states; “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with the windshield or front side windows covered with steam or frost to such an extent as to prevent proper vision.”

While the statute does not mention rear windows, I highly recommend that all windows be cleared. Too many people remove the snow from the windows but leave it piled high on the engine hood. If all of the snow and ice is not properly removed it can be blown from the vehicle when highway speeds are reached. Snow and ice can also be sucked into the fresh air intake of your vehicle (normally located near the bottom of the front windshield) usually resulting in moisture fog on the inside of your windows and windshield. To ensure proper visibility, be sure to clear all snow and ice from your vehicle. Taking the proper steps could help you avoid a crash.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, Minn., 55901-5848; or you may reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.


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