Question: Is it legal to wear earplugs or headphones driving a vehicle in Minnesota? Does the decibel rating matter?

Answer: State statue says that no person, while operating a motor vehicle, shall wear headphones or earphones that are used in both ears simultaneously for purposes of receiving or listening to broadcasts or reproductions from radios or other sound-producing or transmitting devices.

There are a few exceptions:

• The use of a hearing aid device by a person who needs it.

• The use of a communication headset by a firefighter while operating a fire department emergency vehicle in response to an emergency.

• The use of a communication headset by an emergency medical services person while operating an ambulance.

A hands-free device, like a Bluetooth earpiece, is legal because it is only worn in one ear.

It is important for drivers to be aware and alert to everything that is going on around them. Listening to music with headphones or wearing earplugs while driving may block out an emergency vehicle’s siren or the sound of another vehicle’s horn, possibly causing a crash or reducing the response time for an emergency vehicle. The ability to hear a siren and see emergency lights, in a timely manner, will enable the driver to safety move over and yield to approaching emergency vehicles.

Remember to avoid all distractions while driving as your life and others depend on it.

(A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes).

Questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota may be sent to: Trooper Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, 2900 48th St., NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848; or emailed to: Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

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