Answer: Technically, no, it is not illegal to adjust vehicle mirrors while driving, unless the act causes a violation of another traffic law, or risks harm to people or property. That being said, a person could still be cited.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Is It Illegal To Adjust Mirrors While Driving? (Discussion)
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Adjusting The Mirrors
One of the reasons it is difficult to definitively answer this question is that ‘adjusting the mirror’ can mean many things.
The ‘mirror’ could be the driver’s side mirror, the passenger side mirror, the rearview mirror, or other mirrors added to the vehicle to assist the driver to see his trailer or loaded truck bed.
Reaching up to quickly adjust the rear view mirror is a far cry from trying to reach across to the passenger side mirror (is that even possible?)
In general, traffic codes require drivers to handle themselves in a reasonable manner, given the conditions.
In the absence of specific traffic laws, police can always cite a driving for driving in a manner that is unreasonable given the conditions (aka violation of the ‘basic rule.’)
In more extreme situations, if the behavior is not otherwise specifically prohibited, officers can cite drivers for careless driving, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct (among other offenses).
Thus, while there are no statutes that we know of about adjusting mirrors, if the adjusting was done in an unreasonable manner, or was done in a way that put other people or property in danger, a citation could result.
When To Adjust Mirrors
In general, it is better to adjust the vehicle mirrors at the beginning of the trip, in the driveway if possible.
This way there is no chance of being distracted from the road while driving.
This is especially the case if the car is borrowed, new to the driver, or has complicated electronic controls for the windows.
In the absence of making the adjustment in the driveway, doing it when it can be done safely is the best call.
Waiting until the road is straight and traffic is lighter, for example.
However, if an adjustment of the mirrors is necessary immediately for the safety of the vehicle and the people inside it, then the driver may not be able to wait for a straight stretch.
Traffic Offenses Vary From State to State
We know of no law specifically that prevents a driver from adjusting his mirrors while driving in any state.
That being said, we are not lawyers in every state, and are relying upon our own research.
Laws do change, so if you are concerned about this question, make sure to do state specific research.
What To Do If You Get Cited For Adjusting The Mirrors?
If you aren’t sure why you were cited, or don’t understand the citation, you can contact an attorney experienced with handling traffic citation cases.
If the citation is for something more serious (like reckless driving), then a consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney is recommended, as there may be more riding on the line than a fine (fines, probation/jail, license suspension).
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