California Vehicle Code: CVC 24409 High Beam Violation
Vehicles are equipped with both high beams and low beams to offer drivers the best illumination to drive safely. However, operating your high beams can sometimes cause automobile accidents. High beams can “blind” drivers in oncoming traffic causing them to swerve off the road or into traffic. For this reason, California traffic laws include a provision regarding when high beams must not be used.
According to California Vehicle Code § 24409 (Use of Multiple Beams), when you operate a motor vehicle on California roads you must have headlights that provide a distribution of light high enough to allow you to see the road, people, and vehicles ahead.
However, if you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, you must use your low beams. You must use your low beams when you are within 300 feet of a vehicle in front of you. Failure to use your low beams when required by law will result in a California traffic ticket for failure to dim lights. This is a one-point violation and may result in a fine of up to $238 plus court costs and fees.
Are There Other Times When I Should Not Use High Beams?
Low beams allow you to see approximately 200 feet in front of your vehicle. High beams double this distance to between 350 and 400 feet. High beams should be used in rural areas and outside of cities where streetlights are less common except when you are approaching oncoming traffic or approaching a vehicle from the rear. High beams are very helpful when you are traveling on unfamiliar roads or dark city streets as well.
There are situations where high beams will not improve your ability to see what is in front of you. Snow, fog, and heavy rain can cause high beams to be reflected back at the driver causing a glare. In these situations, you should always use your low beams to improve visibility.
However, check your owner’s manual to determine if your vehicle is equipped with fog lights that make it easier to see in fog.
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