Drivers must turn on headlights in rain
May 15, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (May 15, 2014) - Drivers on post need to use their headlights when unfavorable atmospheric conditions reduce visibility.
According to Virginia Regulation 46.2-1030 when, because of rain, smoke, fog, snow, sleet or insufficient light, visibility is reduced to a degree whereby persons or vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet, the driver's headlights need to be on. Headlights also need to be turned on when windshield wipers are in use because of fog, rain, sleet or snow.
"It's a safety issue," said Capt. Steve Galay, Fort Belvoir Police Department. "We want to make sure people use their headlights when conditions are bad enough to warrant the use of windshield wipers. If the weather is bad enough for you to use your windshield wipers, it's bad enough for you to use your headlights to make yourself as visible as possible to other people."
Drivers caught in those conditions without their headlights on can be ticketed through a central violation, which is a federal summons, or a DD-Form 1408. The fine is $90. However the officer must have probable cause to pull over a motorist who doesn't have their headlights on, said Galay.
"It's a civil offense, so the officer has to have another reason to make a traffic stop for the offense," said Galay. "There are no points assigned by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a conviction. So, it's a secondary offense."
Virginia Regulation 46.2-1030 also states no more than four lights should be used to provide illumination ahead of the vehicle, including at least two headlights and any other combination of fog lights or other auxiliary lights approved by the Superintendent, shall be lighted at any time.
The laws for use of headlights are the same off post as on post, according to Galay. However, the amount of money a violator is fined is different because of the difference in the summons issued.
"The summons off post is a Virginia uniform summons versus a federal summons," said Galay. "So, the fines are different off post because you're talking state court versus federal court."
The other big difference between committing a violation off post instead of on post is on the federal summons, Belvoir law enforcement will write down the amount of the fine. It is not required on a Virginia uniformed summons, according to Galay.
"For a Virginia summons, they don't write down the cost up front," said Galay. "You have to call the number on the ticket to get the amount of your fine."