Many motorists think that once they see rain, they have to turn on their headlights. While it’s probably a good rule of thumb to be on the side of safety, it’s not exactly what Washington state law says. In fact, the text of the law doesn’t use the work “rain.”
The law requires headlights 30 minutes after sunset up to 30 minutes before sunrise, and then in conditions where visibility is limited. Specifically, lights are required when “due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet.”
Bottom line, when it rains or is foggy or just plain dark during the day so that vehicle and people are discernable at 1000 feet, then turn on your headlights.
What Happens if I Don’t Turn on my Headlights in Spokane?
If you are supposed to turn your headlights on and don’t, you can get a ticket for around $250, but no points will be assessed to your driving record or your insurance. However, if you got into an accident and didn’t have your headlights on, you could be facing paying damages to those you injured if you caused an accident.
In Washington State, if someone is negligent and causes an accident that injures another person, then they are on the hook for all damages done to the victim. Negligence is defined as doing something that a reasonably safe and prudent wouldn’t do in the same circumstances.
This is a very subjective definition, and it doesn’t rely on a violation of the law to determine if there was negligent. A jury will look at what each driver did and determine how negligent each person was.
If it is dark and someone pulled out in front of you, and you hit them causing them injury, then you probably would be negligent because a reasonably prudent person would have their headlights on at night.
If it was a bright day but a few drops of rain were falling, and the same accident happened, then a jury probably wouldn’t consider not turning your lights on to be negligent.
Contact a Spokane Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an accident, speak to our car accident lawyers who can advise you of your rights and can inform you of the insurance coverage available to you. At Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., we offer a free consultation so you can make an informed decision.
We serve clients in Spokane, Washington, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and surrounding communities.