The moment you hit your brakes, the brake lights are turned on, signaling other drivers behind you that you are slowing down or stopping. Because of such lights, it is possible to prevent rear-end collisions and improve road safety. However, is driving with brake lights stuck on illegal, considering they are meant for road safety?
Brake lights are not designed to be on all the time. They just have to light up when necessary. This means being stuck indicates they are not working as intended and not in accordance with the law. The legality varies from one state to another, while in some cases, it is not indicated if the brake lights being stuck on is illegal.
This comprehensive guide seeks to get into the legal implications of driving with malfunctioning brake lights. The aim is to provide you with better clarity on the matter so that you know what to do if the brake lights are stuck on. We also talk about identifying the problem and how best to resolve it.
Importance of Brake Lights For Road Safety
Brake lights are very important to have at any time. You might as well as miss the AC but not the brake lights. This is because how brake lights are vital for maintaining road safety. They are a vital communication tool between drivers for efficient and safe traffic flow.
The brake lights also provide timely information about the driver’s intention to stop so that there are minimal rear-end collisions. The last thing you need is for someone to stop abruptly, and the brake lights have been on all the time or vice versa.
The Legal Perspective
Traffic laws and regulations are expected to vary from one state to another. However, most regions are likely to have the same requirements regarding how brake lights are supposed to operate.
For the vehicle to be roadworthy, the legal requirements for the brake lights include;
- The brake lights should emit sufficient bright and visible red light each time the brakes are applied. This ensures that the other drivers can easily see the lights in various lighting and weather conditions.
- The laws also stipulate a minimum of two brake lightson the vehicle, and they should not be obstructed in any way. Some states require the brake lights not to be mounted on a moving body part of the vehicle. This means not having brake lights on the boot that can easily be opened.
- The brake lights are also supposed to light promptly. Flickering or long delays in activating can easily confuse the other drivers.
States Where It Is Illegal To Drive With Brake Lights Stuck On
Many states clearly indicate that driving with stuck brake lights is illegal. We look at a few examples for you to understand these laws and regulations.
California Vehicle Code Section 24600 states that every motor vehicle “shall be equipped with at least two taillamps, which, when lighted, shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.”
In Texas, the Transportation Code Section 547.322 specifies that brake lights should be visible at a distance of 300 feet.
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375(2)(a)(2) requires vehicles to have at least two red brake lights. It is expected that these lights should only activate when the driver applies the brakes.
Florida Statutes Section 316.222 states that vehicles must have brake lights that emit a red or amber light, visible from a distance of 300 feet.
To better understand the legality of brake lights stuck on, we recommend consulting further with lawyers or attorneys in your area. This is the best way of getting accurate information about traffic laws and regulations.
One thing is that the time you spend seeking this information can easily be used at the garage to quickly bring the vehicle up to code by mending the issues that led to brake lights being stuck on.
Consequences Of Driving With Stuck Brake Lights
We have already seen the importance of having these brake lights on your vehicle to work as expected. However, some people may still drive with stuck on brake lights. What would happen in such a case?
The most common thing would be traffic citations and fines. That is how it is for most regions. When you drive around with stuck on brake lights, expect to get a fine. The exact amount may differ based on state and if there are any other problems with the vehicle.
You may also experience vehicle inspection to ensure the vehicle also meets other legal requirements to keep it on the road. As you can see, it is possible to have a car failing inspection because the brakes are not functioning properly.
In the case of a point system record, you might lose a few points off your driving license because you were driving with the brakes stuck on. Losing too many points is not good for your driving record.
Expect increased liability since the other drivers cannot know when you are slowing down or accelerating. This could increase the chances of getting into an accident.
Common Causes of Stuck Brake Lights
As we have seen above, having stuck on brake lights can easily land you in trouble. So, before we can repair the brake lights, it is good to know what causes them to be stuck in the first place.
Faulty brake light switch
The brake light switch is a small component near the brake pedal. Each time you press the brake pedal, the switch activates, turning on the brake lights. However, sometimes the switch can be damaged to the point it is always on when it is supposed to turn off once you release the brake pedal. This leaves you with stuck-on brake lights.
It is necessary to diagnose whether the switch is in good condition. If it needs replacing, do so to avoid getting stuck on brake lights.
The electrical problems within the brake light circuit can leave you with stuck on brake lights. It could be loose or damaged wiring, a short circuit, and faulty connectors.
These electrical malfunctions easily lead to the normal functioning of the brake lights; thus, you end up with brake lights that do not turn off.
If you cannot do it yourself, have someone with experience in motor vehicle wiring help find the cause of the problem and rectify it.
Brake Pedal Positioning
It is possible that sometimes the brake pedal does not retract fully. This means it keeps pressing on the brake light switch, leaving the lights on. This is because of mechanical problems with the brake pedal mechanism.
Have a mechanic check the condition of the return springs to ensure they are in good condition to keep the brake pedal operating correctly.
Moisture or Corrosion
Moisture and corrosion can also affect the brake light assembly connections. This leaves you with a braking system that does not work great. An example is when water accumulates on the wiring, leaving it to corrode easily, and now you have stuck on brake lights.
If such an issue is identified, the best thing would be to replace the corroded wiring and provide enough waterproofing to avoid potential corrosion in the future.
Here is a video with more details on how to fix brakes lights that are stuck on
How long can you drive with the brake light on?
It is possible at first; you may notice that your brake lights are stuck on. So, sometimes people drive for hundreds of miles without realizing this. However, once you notice the issue, we recommend addressing it immediately to avoid causing accidents and also being penalized.
Should I consult an attorney for legal advice when I have stuck on brake lights?
Consulting an attorney specializing in traffic law can help you clearly understand how the law works. Let us say you have received a citation because of your brake lights; an attorney is the best person to ask for advice on how to proceed.
When should I seek professional help to address stuck on brake lights?
If you do not have the technical skills to mend the stuck on brake lights, we recommend consulting a professional. A mechanic with experience in such can help you know what the issue is and how best you can repair the vehicle to be within the law.
The topic of driving with stuck on brake lights has always been confusing to some people. However, brake lights are important for the safety of the vehicle and others on the same road.
That is why you need to know why it is important not to drive with such brake lights and how it can be a legal issue in some states. The moment you realize the brake lights are stuck on, head over to a mechanic and have them rectified.