Why Driving With High Beams On Is Not a Bright Idea

Dec 12, 16 by Jorian Goes

Why Driving With High Beams On Is Not a Bright Idea

Let us help clarify vc24409, “the high beam law” to help you avoid getting a ticket for $238 or more.

Imagine you’re taking a nice drive down the California Pacific Coast Highway after the sun goes down and it seems too dark to use your normal headlights. Just because it’s darker outside than you’re comfortable with while driving, is it a good time to use your brights? The short answer is yes, however, there are certain times when the answer is no, and if you’re not sure what the law says, it could cost you $238 or more.

Let us help clarify this law so you know the best way to determine when and when not to use your high beams whether you’re driving through the streets of Los Angeles or on the highways throughout California.

It’s All About Knowing When To Turn Them Off

The California Legislative Information website states that for California vehicle code 24409, which refers to the law regarding driving with high beams, when you drive your vehicle during darkness (whether in the day or night), you should use headlights that distribute light that is high enough and that distribute light sufficiently to reveal people and vehicles at a safe distance in advance of those objects with the following limitations/requirements:

  • Whenever you approach another oncoming vehicle within 500 feet, your lights cannot be so physically high or so bright that its glaring rays are projected into the eyes of the driver approaching you.
  • Whenever you follow a vehicle within 300 feet to the rear, you have to use your normal headlights, not high beams.

Do High Beams Help You See In The Fog?

Another question that often comes up when considering when to use your high beams is “should I use my high beams so I can see in the fog?” While it’s not illegal to use your high beams in the fog as long you’re abiding by the law we previously stated, the California Department of Motor Vehicles shares this important information on the topic in this article from Fox News:

”...drive slowly, turn on your windshield wipers, and use your low beam headlights. The light from the high beam headlights will reflect back and cause glare.”

Use Your Best Judgement To Avoid A Ticket

Though it may be hard to judge the distance between you and another vehicle, you’ll need to use your best judgment when approaching another vehicle coming towards you, or when following one and use your bright beam headlights only when it’s too dark to see people and objects. Just remember to turn your brights off when you get closer to other vehicles so you can avoid getting ticketed by the California Highway Patrol or local law enforcement.