This is another one of those technicality laws that has only recently gotten some daylight. The reason? those pesky little cameras Cities are putting up to catch red light runners. Those things generate so much revenue for such a little cost that Cities are now telling their streat beat cops to ticket all cars in the city without front plates so they can't beat the camera. Cops didn't used to care about front plates because they don't use them. If they are behind you they can't see them and if they are approaching you, they can't read the number anyway because you go by so fast, so they don't care. But those red light camerasonly get a picture of th efront of the car, so if there is no plate, there is no way to identify the scoff law who ran the light. So if you live where or travel around alot in a city that uses those cameras, the front plate is a good idea to have. Just mount it on a skid plate so it faces the ground at an angle...
Some info from a friend of mine that may be helpful. Source is, I believe, Rick Russell of Sidekick Maps in the Chino area somewhere. The short of it, Dave, is that there is a precedent that may be helpful in front of a judge. Sorry so long but I felt it important that all of it be posted.
From: Haskell, Matthew D.
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 9:49 AM
To: Thom Singer
Subject: RE: head light code..
Nothing I can find in the state code regarding headlamp or driving/passing wattage. I think they differ to the DOT. And I guess that's primarily a chp enforcement issue. DOT sets the Mfg standard, not enforcement code. Anyway, Aux lights are more open. I found the article I was telling you about with the guy who appealed a $85 ticket for not covering 'off-road' lights, right up to the superior ct. The original version of the story was more colorfull, it had just happened and he had some words about the conduct of the cop, and the first judge who was actually a laywer standing in.. (Judge pro tem)?
Off Road Lights vs. Driving Lights
May 6, 1997
For many years the Highway Patrol has given conflicting statements about the use of off road lights as driving lights. In addition individual officers had the latitude to administer the auxiliary light laws based on their own judgement/interpretation. But now there is a court case that clarifies issues surrounding auxiliary lights.
After being cited by a CHP officer for not having "off road light" covers, I pleaded not guilty in the Lake Tahoe Municipal Court. I testified that my lights were actually "auxiliary driving lights" (in accordance with section #24402 of the California Vehicle Code). Initially I lost the case, but won on appeal. Since the original ticket was only $86 I kept my costs down by writing the appeal and representing myself.
During the process I learned several facts that would help anyone who installs auxiliary lights on their vehicle. But first let me say that if your lights are mounted above 42" they are considered "off road" lights and must be covered in the State of California.
Copy of Court's Decision
Copy of a letter from DOT
A California Superior Court Clarifies The Use of Auxiliary Lights For Off Highway Enthusiasts
In California off road lights must be covered while driving on a highway, as defined in section #24411 of the California Vehicle Code. The California Vehicle Code also defines auxiliary driving lights under section #24402 as not needing covers. Each statute carefully describes the requirements for each type of light. So what's the problem?
The confusion arose when the California Highway Patrol began defining "Off Road Light" as any auxiliary light without SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) approval. Since this "approval" requirement is not in the law, it was never administered fairly by the California Highway Patrol. Conflicting statements from the Highway Patrol confused the public particularly if you were an off highway enthusiast. For example, have you ever heard of a Highway Officer stopping a sports car to check for SAE approval on their uncovered auxiliary lights?
Recently the El Dorado County Superior Court issued a decision that clarifies California State Law regarding the use of Auxiliary Driving Lights. A three Judge panel over-turned a lower court's decision in which a Highway Patrol Officer had cited an off highway enthusiast for not having his two auxiliary driving lights covered. The Officer testified that if the auxiliary lights were not marked SAE Approved then they were "off road lights" and must be covered on the highway. Unable to convince the Municipal Court in South Lake Tahoe, California to interpret the law (as it was written) or obtain a logical explanation, the driver appealed to Superior Court. Representing himself, the off highway enthusiast successfully presented his case and the higher court over-turned the lower court's decision.
In its ruling the Superior Court stated, "The uncontradicted evidence in this case demonstrates that appellant's [the driver's] lights fall within the definition of "driving lights" in Vehicle Code 24402. That section does not require driving lights to be covered. The administrative regulations pertaining to driving lights do not refer to any SAE requirements. While authority to regulate driving lights is vested in the CHP, there is no evidence that CHP has promulgated such a regulation and if so, what that regulation is."In this case the driver had installed two auxiliary lights on the bumper of his 4x4 vehicle in accordance with the California Vehicle Code section pertaining to Auxiliary Driving and Passing Lights (#24402). His auxiliary lights were 38" above the ground: well within the 16-42" limit. Section #24402 also states that auxiliary driving lamps are designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam. To insure compliance he wired the auxiliary lights into the dimmer switch thereby limiting their use to only high beam operation. The auxiliary driving lamps were equipped with 110 watt bulbs, which is above the legal limit for primary lamps, but these are auxiliary driving lamps--not primary lamps.
The Superior Court's Ruling is binding in all of the Municipal Courts within El Dorado County and most likely it would be honored by Municipal Courts throughout the State of California if the opinion was brought to the court's attention. Since this opinion is not published in any legal publication/journal review the best way to notify the court, if you are ticketed, is to bring a certified copy of the Appellate Court's Decision to your hearing. To receive a certified copy send $4.25 in a self-addressed, stamped envelope to El Dorado Superior Court, 495 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667 requesting Appellate Decision No. PV00-1706, The People of the State of California vs. Richard Russell.
Since the US Department of Transportation (DOT) does not have any regulations prohibiting a vehicle's owner from installing auxiliary driving lights, of any power, nor do they have any regulations requiring auxiliary lights to be covered, it becomes extremely important to read and understand your own state's laws regarding "Off Road" and "Auxiliary Driving" lights.
EL DORADO CO. SUPERIOR CT.
No . PV-001706
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF EL DORADO
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Appellant was cited on December 14, 1995, by CHP Officer Lord for a violation of Vehicle Code § 24411, which requires auxiliary lamps on an off-road vehicle to be covered or hooded and turned off whenever he vehicle is driven upon a highway. Specifically, the section states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a vehicle may be equipped with not more than eight lamps for use as headlamps while the vehicle is operated or driven off the highway. The lamps shall be mounted at a height of not less than 16 inches from the ground, or more than 12 inches above the top of the passenger compartment, at any place between the front of the vehicle and a line lying on a point 40 inches to the rear of the seat occupied by the driver, shall be wired independently of all other lighting circuits, and, whenever the vehicle is operated or driven upon a highway, shall be covered or hooded with an opaque hood or cover, and turned off.
Officer Lord testified that he looks at the auxiliary light to see if there is an SAE stamp; if not, he considers it to be an auxiliary light which must be covered pursuant to Vehicle Code § 24411.
Appellant contends that the two auxiliary lamps on his vehicle are "driving lights" and conform to Vehicle Code § 24402 and are not "off-road lights" regulated by Vehicle Code § 24411. Appellant submits Federal Motor Safety regulations and Department of'. Transportation regulations that along with the provisions of Vehicle Code § 24402 make no provision for the lights being covered or requiring SAE approval.
Vehicle Code § 24402 provides, in relevant part:
Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary driving lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 16 inches nor more than 42 inches. Driving lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam.
Driving, passing, and fog lights are all "auxiliary lighting equipment" within the definition of Vehicle Code § 375(a); similarly, all three types are considered auxiliary lights under the California regulations pertaining to motor vehicles [13 Cal. Admin. C. § 710]. Auxiliary lamps must meet certain mechanical testing requirements set forth in 13 Cal.
Admin. C. § 711; there is not evidence in the record that appellant's lights failed to meet any of these requirements. Each type of auxiliary light must meet certain photometric test requirements; while passing lamps and fog lamps must meet certain SAE requirements, driving lights must only meet requirements specified in 13 Cal. Admin. C. § 712 (a) ; there are no SAE requirements, and there is no evidence that appellant's lights failed to meet the requirements set forth in the Administrative Code.
There is no federal regulation of driving, passing, or fog lights; the California Highway Patrol is therefore authorized to establish requirements for such lighting [13 Cal. Admin. C. §§ 622; 623(b)]. There is no evidence in the record of what, if any, requirements CHP has established for the regulation of this equipment. There is no way of ascertaining from the law and the record in this case whether Officer Lord's determination is arbitrary and personal to him or whether it reflects some CHP standard.
The uncontradicted evidence in this case demonstrates that appellant's lights fall within the definition of "driving lights" in Vehicle Code § 24402. That section does not require driving lights to be covered. The administrative regulations pertaining 'to driving lights do not refer to any SAE requirements. While the authority to regulate driving lights is vested in the CHP, there is no evidence that CHP has promulgated such a regulation and if so, what that regulation is.
Vehicle Code § 24402 was added to the Vehicle Code in 1959; Vehicle Code § 24411 was last amended in 1986. It is a principle of statutory construction that it is assumed that the Legislature has existing laws in
mind when it enacts a statute. "The failure of the Legislature to change the law in a particular respect when the subject is generally before it and changes in other respects are made is indicative of an intent to leave the law as it stands in the aspects not amended" [Estate of McDill (1975) 14 Cal.3d 831, 838]. Further, when a statute is susceptible of two reasonable constructions, it must construed "as favorably to the defendant as its language and the circumstances of its application may reasonably permit" [Keller vs. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 619, 631].
The judgment of the trial court is reversed.
Dated: December 26, 1996
EDDIE T. KELLER
Judge of the Superior Court
TERRENCE m. FINNEY
Judge of the Superior Court
CHARLES E. GOFF
Superior Court Judge, Assigned
LETTER FROM DOT
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety
DEC 2 2 1995
Mr. Richard L. Russell
12475 Central Avenue
Chino, CA 91710
Dear Mr. Russell:
This responds to your FAX of November 15, 1995, to Blane Lausis of this agency, asking for an interpretation of Federal lighting regulations as they may affect your plans to modify your 1956 Jeep. You wish to add two auxiliary lights to supplement your upper beams, and you ask whether these lights are "required to be DOT app " The answer is no; the DOT regulation on motor vehicle lighting (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment does not prescribe requirements for lamps intended to supplement the headlamps, and thus the lamps of which you speak do not have to be certified as meeting Standard No. 108. As a matter of information, your use of the words "DOT approved" reflect; a common misconception. We have no authority to approve or disapprove lighting equipment. Under our statute, a lighting (or vehicle) manufacturer is required to certify that its equipment (or vehicle) meets the Standard No. 108 (if it is replacement equipment included in the standard), and the use of the DOT symbol on the item is the most frequently used method of certification. This means that the "DOT approved" headlamps on your 1956 Jeep are replacement sealed beams with DOT markings on them. You ask whether there is any limitation to bulb wattage for auxiliary lamps used to supplement the headlamps when used on the upper beam. There is no wattage limitation; however, if auxiliary lamps were installed by the dealer on a new vehicle before its first sale, we would regard the vehicle manufacturer's certification as negated if the brightness and location of the auxiliary lamps were such as to affect an oncoming driver's ability to perceive the front turn signals.
Although your Jeep was manufactured long before the effective date of Standard No. 108 (January 1, l969), we ask you to consider this safety concern when adding auxiliary lamps. We do not know the local laws on this subject, and recommend that you seek advice from the Department of California Highway Patrol. If you have any further questions, Taylor Vinson of this Office will answer them for you (phone 202-366-5263).
Samuel J. Dubbin
AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE
Wash. D.C. Area 366-0123
I used swerve around my halucinations, now I drive right thru them.
I used to have a 83 chrysler Le Baron and received a ticket for my front license plate. I even had it displayed on my dash board but the cop said it not only has to be displayed but it also has to be "permanently mounted."
Guys.. Some of these laws are not the blame of import racers or mini-truckers or others that we share the road with.. but more importantly, the common criminal. Tinted windows for example, have been used by criminals to hide behind as an unsuspecting officer on a routine traffic stop approaches the vehicle.. and that is the last thing he did. While I don't want to defend the "a$$holes" that hide behind the badge out there, there is a reason for some of the laws out there. As far as off-road type lights, they have been used illegally to blind other drivers who failed to turn off their high beams. Now I know that the "idiot" who had his high beams on in the first place isn't an angel, but by blinding him in on-coming traffic with off-road lights just leads to an accident (and yes I witnessed this entire accident on the back side of Mojave years ago.. ). So in retrospect, take your tickets and fight them in court, where it really matters, and not with the officer. And be happy that they don't decide to keep you longer than it takes to write the ticket, because legally, you have been detained by an officer of the peace, as defined by section 830 P.C. of the California Penal Code.
<font color=green> When the GREEN flag drops the BS stops. </font color=green>
Wow that was some lengthy reading... So, my pencil beam 130watt piaas are 41-1/4" to the top of the light with normal street PSI pressure in the tires on flat ground. So, I read that and it sounds like I don't need them covered, and if I read it right can I wire them to my high beams? I wouldn't want to do that cause it's a impossible to see cars coming to turn them off till you actually see the headlights, but I'm curious...
'92 Ford Exploder (AKA Dezert Limo cause it's loaded)
Be careful about mounting the front LP to the skid plate. I got a warning on mine because the officer couldn't see it. He came to the car and asked why I didn't have a front plate. I told him it was on there. He looked again and told me it was at an angle and he couldn't see it, so I had to fix it.
As far as the lights go - if you are unsure just invest in the clear covers (they'll protect your lights anyway) and if you get pulled over just hope the cop doesn't know this area of the vehicle code well. Hopefully he won't know offhand that the covers have to be opaque. I think Austin got away w/ the clear covers not too long ago. Steve
I think it was a good thing he did...it was the principality of the whole thing...the "man" sticks it to us often so why not stick it to the "man" whenever possible. SAE was mentioned in the article and I take a bet, a VERY conservative bet that less then half of the CHP out there dont know what that stands for.
"I can't believe this dude went to all this trouble to get out of a ticket."
I can't believe how much trouble some/most officers go through to give tickets!!
<A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.barneysprecision.com/fabproducts.htm> Fab Parts</A>
Ask an officer . . . he'll tell you it's no trouble at all!
Here's the real deal, folks, if ya think an officer is pulling you over because your lamps aren't covered, think again. In many cases, this is just the probable cause to stop you. To smell your breath; to smell the interior air of your vehicle; to see what's in our vehicle.
Wise up . . . don't give "The Man" a valid reason to stop you. Inspect your lamps (turn, tail, head, license plate lamp, etc), cover your off road lamps, Get the illegal tint off. Don't give 'em a reason.
LOL, not a very cop friendly place around here is it. I'll base the rest of this post on personal experience so here goes. First, your average officer / deputy spends far to much time running 10 radio calls behind to write citations, and their supervisors don't want them stopping people for a missing front plate, when they should be responding to calls. They are specifically told NOT to. Why? It's not their assigned position. Now lets get to CHP and/or traffic officers. The read and know the vehicle code to a fault. Other than accidents, that is their position, and thats what they do. Now to pull you over to investigate you or your car, if they find something, so be it. But keep in mind where the money goes for all those cites, straight to the local city or state governments to which they are employed. And is why they are expected to write as many tickets as needed.
Most officers have to deal with some of the worse things you can imagine. So what it boils down to, if you want to call them "The man." or an "A$$hole." unless you want to step into their shoes and take over, please don't. I dislike the corrupt or uncourteous cop MORE than you, so don't group us together unless you know me. By the way, SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers, so that's 100 % so far. Feel free to flame me, I expect it.
I bought some covers today for my lights from McKenzies. They have them in stock for great prices. They also had the clear ones. I opted for the white ones with the Hella on them so Reese does not pull me over when cruising on his highway.
"SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers" must have got that from the post above I would never want to step into "their shoes" (their being a CHP officer) because I know that there are not many people out there that like them, although I know not many on here will admit it, or will just say I am way off base! A police officer on the other hand...now that is a job I think more people should respect...I know I do, but for the wages officers get paid these days and what little education they have, they should have a risky ass job. Now this is only my opinion, but I feel strongly about it.
<A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.barneysprecision.com/fabproducts.htm> Fab Parts</A>
LMFAO! This guy clearly doesn't value his time very much. I can't believe this dude went to all this trouble to get out of a ticket.
From some the stuff I did trim out of that posting I think the officer's attitude made him mad enough to take it to the Supreme Court if need be. The officer's supposed quotes sounded very much like the worst kind of officer to have in the field and one that should have been caught in the selection process b4 he ever became an officer.
Reese, you do have a very good point though, Don't give them a reason to pull you over.
BTW, congrats on being this year's "El Presidente".......
I used swerve around my halucinations, now I drive right thru them.
Kris...what do you mean a "risky ass job"? And do you know how long "cops" go to school? About as long as us Firefighters do! I have to attend about 18 units of college courses every year just to maintain and update Certifications and liscenses. You think a lawyer has to go to school? Who do you think court cases, arrests, etc...are based on? It is not the work of teh lawyers! If a cop doesn't get it right, the bad guy walks, simple as that.
With that said, I find it funny how you guys are nagging on teh CHP. After 20 years of working side by side with local, county and state officers, I think CHP are by far the most laid back. Now, I am not defending this next statement as the right thing, but I know it is true and should shed a little light for some of you. Cops are taught, yes, taught, to portray themselves as the superior being and that is for a reason, so they can control whatever situation they go to. They have to assert themselves so they can retain power over whoever may be a problem in the situation. Another thing you guys need to understand, Cops spend there days at work dealing with dirtbags. People don't call 9-1-1 to have the cops come have a cup of coffee or slice of pie, they call because some dirtbag has screwed up their day and they want the cops to deal with it. So cops spend their days trying to catch bad guys and deal with folks who, the majority of the time, are in a really pissed off mood. It is not the cops fault that the stereo oror the car got ripped off or some punk jacked you in the bathroom or whatever, but everybody acts like they are the only person in the world this has happened to when ithappens to them, and to a cop, you are just case number 3,476 for the month of reports they have to submit.
If you don't want to get hassled by the cops, don't give them the opportunity to pull you over. YOu all know the auziliary light law, so now you can educate the cop who pulls you over for your covers not being on. And remember, the first 10 words out of your mounth will determine the outcome of the rest of your day. pass the attitude test.
By the way, Rick Russel is the guy behind the whole offroad trail maps thing and was the guy responsible for the Volunteer OHV program in the Berdoo National forest. He is somewhat of a legend in the rock crawler circles. To him, time for Offroad Vehicles being treated fairly is a religion.
For what it's worth... Martininsocal brought up a good point. Law enforcement personnel are taught to maintain a superior position in all conversations by being the ones asking all the questions. If you ever want to throw a "cop" off his or her game, (99% guaranteed to make you worse off) start playing their own game and ask THEM questions. I got pulled over for a dim passenger side rear license plate bulb at 2:am (just an excuse to pull me over to check for other things) and I was pissed. I started asking the mean ol' CHP woman a few questions of my own and things got ugly fast. After 20 minutes of them searching my vehicle I ended up leaving with a fix-it ticket and a broken tail light lens, courtesy of her partners Streamlight.
I agree that most cops are great people but as with any profession the real a**holes seem to steal the spotlight.