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Good Question: Do You Have To Turn Headlights On During Rain?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over the past several days of rain, some WCCO viewers have emailed us wondering: Why do some drivers not turn on their lights in the rain?

“Some people are forgetting and some people aren’t aware, and I think some people are choosing to ignore that,” said Lt. Chris Erickson with the Minnesota State Patrol. “I hope that’s not the case.”

Minnesota has had its current car light law in place since 1990. It’s one of the most specific ones in the country.

The state statute says headlights, taillights and other illuminating devices (including running and parking lights) must be on at any time from sunset to sunrise. They must also be on any time it’s raining, snowing, sleeting or hailing. And any other time visibility is impaired by weather, smoke fog or conditions where you can’t see 500 feet ahead, your lights must be on.

In Wisconsin, the law isn’t as specific. There, lights are required during hours of darkness.

In Minnesota, drizzling counts too.

“Any type of precipitation, and a good rule of thumb is if you’re turning those windshield wipers on, even sporadically, we want the people to have their headlights on,” Lt. Erickson said.

A ticket for driving without headlights when required by law would run a person $118.

The State Patrol says whether or not to give a ticket is up to individual trooper’s discretion.

“As an agency, we’re aggressive in our enforcement and education, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a citation every time,” Lt. Erickson said.

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