Lane Ranger for Monday, April 14, 2003

Dear Lane Ranger,

What is the rule on inclement weather when driving a vehicle on the streets of Virginia?

I went on vacation to Georgia in Oct. of 2002.

Upon my return, as I came across the state line of North Carolina and Virginia, I saw a sign on I-95 indicating “When using windshield wipers, during inclement weather, headlights must be on.”

Is this the state law and if so, why isn’t it being enforced? I realize that it would take several hundred police officers to do this and although it seems to be a minor infraction, why can’t the Virginia Department of Transportation install more of these signs throughout the state to ensure that the public is aware of this law?

This law should also apply to foggy weather and during snowfall or hail.

John Handley, Woodbridge

Dear John,

The Lane Ranger called Sgt. J.R. Braun of the Virginia State Police.

Braun said it is indeed a law that motorists use their headlights whenever their windshield wipers are on.

It is, however a secondary offense. Police may not stop people for that infraction alone, Braun said.

“If I stop you for speeding and your windshield wipers are on and your headlights aren’t on, I can give you a ticket,” Braun said.

Although Braun said that he wasn’t sure of the amount for such a ticket, motorists should know that they may be required to pay court costs as well as the fine.

Costs may vary by jurisdiction, but Braun said the court costs alone generally run in the neighborhood of $50.

Please send questions or comments on transportation to: Lane Ranger, c/o Potomac News, P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge, VA 22195; fax: (703) 878-8099; e-mail to [email protected] or by phone: (703) 878-8062.

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