When Do I Have to Use Headlights in New York City?

Last December, we wrote about when it’s OK to drive with your high beams on in New York City. Building off of this topic, we thought it would be beneficial to share some more information about headlight use – specifically, when you need to drive with your headlights on in the city.

Many recent vehicles have automatic sensors that turn on headlights when the ambient light around the vehicle becomes dark enough. Many other vehicles simply flick on the headlights as soon as they start. Both of these features exist to help drivers make sure they’re driving with enough illumination ahead of them for safety reasons, and it doesn’t hurt that it might save them from an unexpected traffic ticket, either!

This technology is all well and good if your car has it, but if it doesn’t or doesn’t work correctly, you’ll need to know when to manually switch on your headlights to avoid a ticket!

Headlight Laws in New York City

Unless it’s completely dark outside, it may not be so obvious when New Yorkers need to turn on their headlights while driving. You might think there’s enough ambient light during twilight or from artificial light sources that you won’t need to use your headlights, but failing to do so is more than likely illegal.

When to Use Headlights During Day & Night

In New York, drivers must begin using their headlights a half hour after sunset and at least a half hour before sunrise. This law applies even if you think there’s enough ambient light from artificial light sources, twilight, or even the moon to drive. Generally speaking, your headlights should illuminate the road at least 350 feet ahead of you and 500 feet if you’re using high beams.

Using Headlights during Inclement Weather

Nighttime isn’t the only occasion for using your headlights, though. Any time you can’t clearly see the road ahead of you because it’s dark, such as during rainy, foggy, or stormy weather, you must use your headlights.

When there is rain or snow, though, only use your low beams because the rain and snow can reflect high beam light back at you, making it harder to see.

Headlight Ticket Penalties

If you are ticketed for driving without your headlights on when they should be on, you can face a fine of up to $150 and a surcharge of $58 or $63. Judges also have the discretion to sentence someone to jail for up to 30 days for this traffic infraction, although it’s very unlikely you’ll face such a consequence.

No headlight-related infractions will incur points against your driving record except failure to dim them when required to do so by law.

How Do I Fight a Headlight Ticket in New York?

If you wish to fight your headlight traffic ticket, you can begin by hiring legal counsel who can help you mitigate your responsibility for the alleged infraction. It may be difficult to argue that your lights were on when an officer says they weren’t, but you might have a better chance of success arguing that your headlights didn’t need to be on at the time you were stopped.

If you would like to learn more about legal representation that can help you with your ticket, reach out to Stites Law for assistance.

Call (212) 729-0472">(212) 729-0472 or contact us online now to get started!