“Light’s On!” Program Brings Community Together

DULUTH, Minn.– Have you ever had a cop driving behind you, and you think you’re doing everything right, until their red and blue lights go off? Then they tell you that one of your tail lights is burnt out.

Not only does your tail light need to be replaced, but then there’s the additional cost of the ticket. A program that has been in Duluth for the past few months is allowing officers to help drivers avoid those expenses.

The Duluth Police Department, area businesses, and others are working together to help people on the road.

Getting a ticket for a broken car light can be a hassle for both the driver and the police. Through the Lights On! program, instead of getting a ticket, drivers will be handed a voucher to have their vehicle’s light fixed. The vouchers can be redeemed at three local auto body shops around Duluth and there is no cost for fixing the broken light.

The Light’s On! program is a team effort led by MicroGrants. They are a non-profit based in Minnesota that gives grants for education and transportation uses. Their funding comes through donations from foundations and the public. These pay for the vouchers.

DPD first heard of the program in late 2019. It took them a little over a month to get lights on vouchers here last November.

“There’s so many times when we pull someone over who doesn’t even know they might have a broken head light, tail light, or turn signal. There just going about their day and driving along and this provides us a tool in our tool belt to not issue a ticket,” said Ingrid Hornibrook, Public Information Officer for DPD.

So far, the police department has given out over 60 vouchers. These are given if someone is pulled over for a burnt light.

The program is also non-discretionary. No matter how new or old your car is, you can still get a voucher.

One of the three auto body shops involved with Lights On! is Thompson’s T express in West Duluth. So far the shop has redeemed about a dozen vouchers.

Depending on the car you drive, replacing a light can be difficult and time consuming for most people.

“Chevy Malibu’s and things like that, the bumper has to be removed to actually replace the headlights,” said Nathan Puttbrese, Shop Foreman for Thompson’s T Express. “That can be kind of a costly repair. Sometimes an hour, hour and a half of labor, which can be over $100.”

Programs like Lights On! are helping out with the costs of owning a car, while also keeping the roads safe.

“It’s all really about building relationships and so it keeps our relationships with the community strong,” said Hornibrook.

The Lights On! program will continue for the near future. If you do get a voucher, be sure to use it within 60 days.

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