Is It Illegal To Drive With the Overhead Light On?


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 04, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

You learn about the rules of the road long before you learn how to drive. You understand traffic lights and signs, how to merge lines safely, and who has the right of way. But you might be curious bout the overhead light in your car. Is it okay to have the dome light on while driving?

Driving with your interior lights on, especially at nighttime, can make driving challenging. It also can distract other drivers on the road. But is it illegal? This article covers the dangers associated with distracted driving and all about those inside lights in your car.

Is It Illegal To Drive With Interior Lights On?

Your car’s dome light technically is allowed to be on while driving. The interior dome light can be distracting, though. Engaging in other activities while driving, such as turning on the inside lights, can harm you. If you’re turning the dome light on, it’s because you’re already distracted.

Distracted driving

The interior car lights being on is not illegal; however, you risk disobeying traffic laws if you’re distracted while driving. For example, a police officer may notice you swerving due to your inside lights.

You may also drive through a red light if you’re too busy looking around with the dome light on in your car. You’re risking other drivers, too, since you’re not focusing on the road ahead.

Road and traffic safety

Consider driving in the evening. You rely on your night vision to ensure you’re practicing road safety. If you’re on a road trip, you may need something, such as your phone, to help you find your way. If your phone is in the passenger seat, you might turn on your interior dome light to locate it.

With your inside light on, you’re obstructing your night vision and other drivers around you. If you or other road users can’t see, you significantly increase your risk of an accident.

What To Do When You Need To Turn On Your Car’s Inside Lights

The safest thing you can do when switching on your lights in the car is to pull over. Young drivers need to pay attention to traffic safety and care while driving. By pulling the vehicle over, you’re safely avoiding any unnecessary dangers.

Passengers in the car

You may have passengers in the car who need to turn on the inside lights for a reason. It would help if you communicated with those passengers to wait for you to park or pull over beforehand. Then, you don’t risk becoming distracted on the road.

Emergencies

Let’s say you’re using your phone’s map to help you reach your destination. If your phone’s battery suddenly deteriorates, you must find your charger. While it may seem like you can quickly turn the light on and locate your charger, you must exercise caution.

Is it safe, even if it’s something you can achieve quickly and need immediately? Your distraction can also just as easily end up in an accident. The safest thing would be to pull over, turn on the light and find it.

Consequences Of Driving With Your Overhead Lights On

You understand isn’t illegal to drive with overhead lights on. But are there consequences if you do? Consider the results of driving while distracted due to having your vehicle’s inside lights on.

Tickets

If your lights are on in the car, you may get pulled over for distracted driving. For example, you may be swerving on the road, looking for something with the light.

A police offer can pull you over and issue a ticket for reasons other than your lights. You may swerve into another lane with your dome light on. You might be holding your phone or hit another vehicle due to being distracted.

Car insurance rates

Auto insurance companies consider your driving record when determining your rates. Your rates likely increase if you get a ticket due to distracted driving. This can be worse for young drivers who already suffer from high insurance costs.

FAQ

Can you drive with the overhead light on?

You can drive with your overhead lights on; it’s not illegal. But it’s unsafe to drive with your lights on for many reasons.

Is it illegal to drive with the interior light on in Florida?

It’s not illegal to drive with your interior car lights on in Florida. But, again, it’s not safe, and you risk yourself and others on the road.

Is it illegal to drive with interior lights on in California?

There is no law in California for driving with your dome lights on. But you need to ask yourself if it’s safe to do so. People with their lights are often distracted, leading to accidents and other dangers.

Does the law change if the car is not running?

The laws of the road don’t change, regardless of whether your car is running. It’s safer to turn on your dome lights if you’re not driving and the vehicle isn’t running. But you still need to obey road safety and obtain car insurance, even if your car isn’t running.

Is it illegal in Florida to drive with the overhead light on?

No, it’s not illegal to drive in Florida with your inside lights on in the car. But, it would help if you were cautious when doing so – you’re likely exercising distracted driving and could still end up with a ticket.

What are the consequences of driving with the interior light on?

Inside lights on in the car while driving indicate you’re distracted. You may end up in an accident or are swerving lanes. If a cop sees this, they can issue a ticket due to distracted or reckless driving. Some cars are equipped with safety features to alert you when you begin to swerve.

Closing Paragraph

Adhering to safety on the road ensures you’re a better driver. Driving with your car’s inside lights on isn’t safe, even if it’s legal. If you need to turn them on for a valid reason, find a place to pull over or park, so you’re safe on the road.

You risk yourself and others when you drive with your lights on inside the vehicle. If you’re involved in an accident or issued a ticket due to distracted driving, immediately file a claim with your car insurance company.