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Is it Illegal to Drive Without a Side Mirror?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Those side-view mirrors that protrude out on either side of a car get knocked, bumped, broken, and vandalized more often than most people expect. If you're driving around with a broken side mirror, you might be wondering whether law enforcement can pull you over, or ticket you, if you don't get it fixed right away.

Unfortunately, the answer depends on what state you are driving in, as not only do the traffic laws vary from state to state, but what is considered as required safety equipment also varies. While there are federal guidelines that set requirements that specifically mandate side mirrors and a rear-view mirror, the federal guidelines apply more for manufacturers. The state traffic laws about side-view and rear-view mirrors will apply to drivers and govern when a driver can be pulled over and ticketed.

Rear-View Required

While the federal guidelines require new cars be built with both rear and side-view mirrors that meet specific visibility requirements, state laws control what a car owner can and must do to a car they plan to drive on the road. So, if your state's traffic laws require that a car have one or two side-view mirrors, and one of your side mirrors is broken, you can be pulled over and ticketed.

Fortunately, if it is just a matter of a broken side mirror, many states allow officers to issue "Fix-It" tickets. These tickets either allow a fine to be waived, or reduced, if the problem can be, and is, fixed within an allotted time period.

Illegal Automotive Technology

Last year, the future of automotive technology was debuted to the delight, and groans, of those that relish the finer things in automotive luxury. Forget driving around in a car that even has mirrors. Instead, automakers are ditching not just side-view, but also rear-view mirrors, in favor of installing video cameras and digital displays. Unfortunately, the law is very far behind when it comes to this sort of technology, and while it may be legal in Japan, no state in the US has allowed this new tech on the road.

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