Is it Really Illegal to Drive with Your Interior Dome Lights On in Indiana?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been told that it's illegal to have your interior dome lights on while driving at night, but is that really true?
Growing up, I remember my parents telling me that they couldn't turn on the interior dome light of the car. I'd drop something or want to see something at night, so I would ask them to turn on the light. They would instantly say that they can't do that because it's illegal. That was it. No explanation as to why. Let's be honest, we all have heard that from our parents. So, from there on after, I always ran with the fact that the dome light isn't to be turned on at night while you are driving because it's illegal...and the last thing I want is to have to pay for a ticket.
Now, as an adult, I find myself curious as to what exactly is the law in Indiana on driving with your interior dome light on. Is it actually illegal, or was that just a myth created by your parents as an excuse not to turn that light on? I think it's time to find out once and for all.
Is it Illegal to Drive with Your Dome Light on at Night in Indiana?
Okay, so after doing a little research, driving with your interior dome light on is generally not illegal in most states, including Indiana. However, that doesn't mean that you won't get ticketed for it. According to Policy Genius:
That said, one of the reasons the “driving with interior lights on” myth has held so much weight over the years is because it’s not entirely untrue. And that’s because the reason you need to turn your interior lights on may be considered distracted or careless driving, which is illegal.
So, let's say that you have your dome light on at night, you are rummaging through your purse and swerving all over the road. An officer could pull you over for negligent driving because you could cause harm to yourself or others on the roadway. Whether or not you’d get a ticket for this depends on your local jurisdiction.
Currently, Indiana's distracted driving laws are focused on driving and using your cell phone (which is illegal. But keep in mind, that distracted driving still has repercussions in Indiana. Enjuris says:
Indiana doesn’t have any other laws addressing distracted driving, meaning it’s technically legal (though dangerous) to do things like apply makeup or eat food while driving. However, just because these distracting activities are legal doesn’t mean they won’t be used against you in a civil lawsuit if you cause an accident.
While Driving with Your Dome Light on isn't Illegal, it's still Dangerous
Now that we can officially bust the myth that it's illegal to drive with your interior dome light on, that doesn't mean that you have the go-ahead to do it. Dome lights can produce a glare on the front and rear windshields. This creates blind spots for drivers that can become especially problematic when you are driving at night or when it's raining or snowing outside when your visibility is already reduced. Policy Genius goes on to say:
Plus, if you need your interior lights on, you’re likely looking for something which means you’re not fully focused on driving. Distracted driving accidents can be extremely serious — distracted driving caused 2,841 deaths across the U.S. in 2018, according to The National Highway Safety Administration.
So, if you need to turn your interior dome light on, it's best to find a place to pull over, get or look at whatever you need, and then continue driving.