The main reason the legality of driving with a dome light on is a matter of question is that you probably have heard about it a lot. If your parents had a car and you were in the back seat, they may have warned you not to turn on the light. Mostly they will tell you that it is illegal, and you may get a ticket for the act.
But is it really? Well, driving with a dome light on does pose certain risks to you and other passengers for various reasons. So, the elders were not wrong with their wisdom. So, let's talk about the legality and risk of driving with a dome light on.
The Legality of Driving with an Illuminated Dome Light
It may come as a surprise to you but driving with dome lights on is not illegal at all. Yes, almost no state has any prohibition on this. The federal agencies didn't illegalize it as well. So, why is the fuss? Well, it mostly happened because many got pulled over for distracted driving. Driving distracted and carelessly is illegal and can give you a ticket.
Now, most people turn on their dome lights when they need to search for something inside the car. But, doing so as one drives makes it highly dangerous for them, the passengers, and others on the road. So, the main issue the cops may have is you staying distracted under the dome light, not the light itself.
You won't get pulled over for driving with an illuminated dome light. But it can happen when you are searching for something or not concentrating on the road when the light is on.
Is It Okay to Drive with Dome Lights on?
As I previously mentioned, you shouldn't drive with a dome light on. It is true that it is perfectly legal. But you can easily get distracted because of the light. When your vehicle's interior is dark, and you can only see the road ahead, you are less likely to get into any road accident.
If you really need to look for something inside the vehicle, pull your car over somewhere legal first. Then after you have dealt with your work, turn off the light before driving again. Trust me; you will also save a lot of battery energy in the process.
But that is not all the risk with driving with a lit dome light. The beams from the dome light can reflect on the windshield or the rear-view mirror, making it difficult to see the front or rear. Meanwhile, this light can also distract drivers behind you. Our eyes usually get attracted to bright things, after all.
What If Your Passengers Need to Turn the Dome Lights on?
There may be situations when you or any passenger need to turn on the dome light for something. In that case, tell them to be quick or do it only when there is not much traffic.
What About Other Interior Lights?
It is not illegal to drive your vehicle with any interior lights on in most places. However, if it is an aftermarket light, it must not have any of the forbidden color in your state’s vehicle lighting rules. You should avoid red or blue since they are prohibited everywhere.
Also, flashing and strobing lights are illegal, whether inside or outside the vehicle. If you must design your vehicle’s interior, I suggest putting some LED strips over your pedals and some under the front and back seats.
Note that some states indirectly illegalize aftermarket interior lighting products. For example, Virginia has prohibited the usage of lamps with lumen below 15 candlepower. It is unlucky, but you won’t easily find any interior lights from the market with that low brightness.
Driving with a turned-on dome light is not illegal, but it is unsafe. You must think about your and others’ safety here. The beam from the light can be distracting for you as you drive, leading to an accident or legality issue. It can also distract other drivers. That is why it is wise not to drive with illuminated dome lights.