Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on in Indiana? | Lighting Laws Explained
Parents constantly stop their children from turning on their car's interior lights, telling them that it is illegal. It turns out that they're wrong. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are here to guide injured victims on the motor vehicle laws in Indiana and help them with their personal injury cases.
Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on in Indiana?
Technically, driving with interior car lights on, including dome lights, is not illegal in most states, including Indiana. However, it may be considered distracted or careless driving, for which a police officer can issue a citation. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like, "What is the legal limit for window tint in Indiana?"
This may be confusing to understand, so here is an example to help illustrate why a driver may get a ticket for having their interior car lights on:
Becky is driving at night and drops her cell phone. The interior of the car is dark, which makes it difficult for her to see. She turns on the vehicle's dome light and reaches down the passenger seat to grab the device, causing her to swerve on the road.
In the example above, if a police officer sees Becky, they may pull her over for negligent driving, as switching on her dome light and reaching out for the phone not only puts her in danger but other road users as well. Depending on the jurisdiction, she may also get a citation.
Does Indiana Have Distracted Driving Laws?
Indiana has an old law that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while driving. However, recently, the state enacted a new hands-free law, making it illegal for vehicle operators to hold their mobile phones while behind the wheel. Auto accident attorneys have more information about this.
It's important to understand that the driving laws in Indiana lay emphasis on holding a cell phone. The law does not address different forms of distracted driving, such as eating, drinking, smoking, and applying makeup, among many other acts. This means that these activities are all legal.
However, if a driver's distracted driving causes an accident resulting in injuries or death, it could lead to liability for which injured victims may pursue compensatory damages. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like, "Is texting and driving illegal in Indiana?"
Why Are Dome Lights Dangerous for Drivers?
Although turning on a dome light in a vehicle is not illegal, it is extremely dangerous and can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
Dome lights can create a glare on the front and rear windshields or the windshield wiper, making it difficult for the drivers to see, especially at night or in poor weather conditions (rain, snow, or hail).
According to Policygenius, turning on interior lights in a car reduces visibility. It is an act of negligence, as the driver is not fully concentrating on the road ahead but is distracted by what's inside their vehicle.
In some cases, interior lights can obstruct the view of drivers in the vehicles behind, causing them to bump into the car in front of them. This could lead to serious injuries and, in a worst-case scenario, death.
Does Driving with Dome Lights Affect Insurance Premiums?
Driving with interior lights on or while talking on the phone will not affect insurance premiums unless the driver is caught by a police officer who decides to issue a citation. Getting a ticket can taint your driving record, which can have an adverse impact on the cost of insurance.
However, insurers only check an individual's driving record from the last several years. If a driver received a citation five years ago, it may not affect the premiums on their policy.
What Should Drivers Do If They Need to Turn on the Interior Lights in Their Car?
Whether the driver is looking for spare change or simply wants to rummage through the glovebox, they must find a safe place to pull over before turning on the interior lights. This reduces the risk of accidents and also ensures the safety of other road users.
On the other hand, if a passenger or vehicle occupant wants to turn on the interior light for whatever reason, the driver must ask them to wait until they reach a safe zone where there aren't many potential hazards around.
Should Parents Tell Their Kids about the Legality of an Overhead Light?
Many parents still lie to their kids about going inside the dark, telling them stories of hidden monsters waiting to pounce on them. The same is true about the interior dome light.
It's crucial for parents to tell their children the truth from a very young age. This will ensure that they grow up to be responsible drivers who know about the motor vehicle laws in their residing state.
What Types of Motor Vehicle Lights Are Illegal in Indiana?
In 2021, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill that sets rules pertaining to motor vehicle lights. Under the new law, it is illegal to have:
Red, green, yellow, or blue front lights; and
There are also certain vehicle light requirements that drivers must fulfill to legally drive in Indiana, such as two red brake lights and red taillights. If they have flashing lights, a law enforcement officer can pull them over and issue a citation.
It's important to note that the law may vary in other cities, which is why individuals must do their research to help improve road safety and become better drivers.
Should Drivers Remove or Alter the Dome Lights?
Whether it is a road trip or a quick drive down to the store, turning on dome lights during the night or in poor weather conditions can cause distractions. Some drivers may want to remove or alter the car's interior lights to reduce the risk of distracted driving, but that may not be a good idea.
There is no way to alter the car's interior lights without messing with the electricals, and doing so can pose electrical and safety risks to the vehicle occupants and other drivers.
If parents find that their child is constantly turning on the dome lights manually, they can take temporary measures to prevent that from happening, such as sticking tape over the buttons.
Can Injured Victims Sue the Drivers Who Have Their Dome Lights On?
Using dome or map lights while driving is a bad idea because it causes distraction and increases the risk of accidents. Under personal injury law, injured victims may be able to pursue compensatory damages if they suffered injuries due to another's negligence.
Injured Victims Should Reach Out to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Indianapolis
Those who have suffered injuries in Indianapolis, Indiana, due to someone else's negligence should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be able to recover compensation.