Friday, June 9, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Are Modern Cars Causing More DWIs?

Idiot Lights on a Dash, Throwing Codes Sucks!
Thank you BMW
I am a car enthusiast, always have been and always will be. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love defending drivers of everything from speeding to DWI. People who love cars and who love to drive get into trouble at times. Doug DeMuro is a auto journalist, and writes a column for Autotrader. He recently wrote about a phenomenon where many people are driving at night without using their head lights. I have seen an uptick of people being stopped for this offense in our practice.

How does driving without your lights lead to increased DWI arrests? 

Is driving without your lights a crime in New York State?

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law States You Must Use Your Lights in the Rain, at Dusk, and at Night

New York has a section of law which very clearly states that driving without use of your front lights is a violation. It also states if ANYTHING is falling from the sky you better have them on as well.
Rain, sleet, snow, hail, and any other unfavorable atmospheric condition (science fiction anyone).

VTL Section 375

2.  (a)  Every motor vehicle except a motorcycle, driven upon a public
  highway during the period from one-half hour after  sunset  to  one-half
  hour  before  sunrise or at any other time when windshield wipers are in
  use, as a result  of  rain,  sleet,  snow,  hail  or  other  unfavorable
  atmospheric  condition,  and  at  such  other  times as visibility for a
  distance of one thousand feet ahead of such motor vehicle is not  clear,
  shall display:
    1.  at  least  two  lighted head lamps on the front, one on each side, 
having light sources of equal power;

 Specially a half hour after SUNSET to one half hour before SUNRISE. Maybe we should rename it the Vampire law. Vampires can't be out in any sunlight.

Are Your Head Lights ON or OFF?

Why an Increased Number of New York DWI Arrests from Modern Cars?

Doug DeMuro noted that many modern cars have a number of new options and features. We are unaccustomed to having a lit up gauge cluster and dashboard if our head lights are NOT on. Old cars had head lights that were in sync with dash lights. This is no longer the case. You can have full dash/gauge cluster lighting without having ON your head lights.

Because many new cars allow us to have a fully lit up dash and running lights as a default setting. Some people (many of our clients) assume that this also means the car has automatic headlights.

Having a well lit dashboard does NOT equal automatic headlights. So many drivers exiting a bar or party get into a car they are unfamiliar with and drive without the use of their headlights. Sometimes the roads are fairly well lit, sometimes their running lights give some road vision, and sometimes they are too impaired or intoxicated to notice either of these things.

We are seeing more and more motorists being stopped for their failure to use their headlights. They are shocked and surprised to get stopped for this violation because from their viewpoint they did nothing wrong.

This happens all too often to those who rent or borrow a friend's car. As a general rule get to know the equipment of the car you are operating BEFORE driving it. This is to avoid any issues that may arise including how to lock, unlock, drive smoothly, use climate control functions, window defrosters, etc. Sometimes getting to know these things is a matter of health, welfare, and safety.