Skip to main content

Beware of 'peephole driving' -- it's dangerous and illegal

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Clearing a frosted windshield before hitting the road seems to be a matter of common sense, but a story in the Star Tribune offers a reminder that motorists who don't take the time to do the job thoroughly can get in a real scrape.

Peering through a small opening is known as “peephole driving.” The teeny porthole can prevent what the story calls "doofus drivers" from seeing "...pedestrians at crosswalks, cars in adjoining lanes, hapless bicyclists, leashless dogs and other clueless drivers."

“Just like we tell people it’s going to take you a little longer to get places, it’s going to take a little longer to clear off your car,” said Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. He said that a citation for obscured vision can cost upwards of $130. Other states take the offense more seriously. Pennsylvania drivers must remove all ice and snow from a vehicle’s hood, roof and windshield before taking off. If snow or ice flies off the car and causes an accident or injury, drivers can be fined up to $1,000. New Jersey drivers also must clear hoods, roofs and windshields or face fines of $25 to $75.

The danger of doing an inadequate job clearing a windshield can have lethal consequences. Last October, 21-year-old Robert Tofstad pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide for killing an 85-year-old woman in February 2012 in Winona. Police said that if Tofstad had cleared the frost off his windshield, he likely would have seen Ruth Brendel walking across the street on the way to church. The Winona Daily News reported that investigators observed that the right side of Tofstad's windshield and all the side windows of the car were frosted over, with only a portion of the driver's windshield cleared.

At the time of the sentencing, KTTC in Rochester reported that the judge ordered Tofstad to be jailed for the weekend closest to the anniversary of Brendel's death for the ten year duration of his probation.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-29 at 1.54.31 PM

Missing: Minnesota man last seen in Sioux Falls area

Aaron Pearson, 41, was reported missing on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.


Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.