Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights On?

Imagine getting pulled over due to driving with your interior lights on. This is a common scenario among newbie drivers, especially in some states. It begs the question, is it illegal to drive with interior lights on?

There are several interior lights, with our focus being on the dome light, which illuminates the entire cabin. Let us look at the legality of driving with interior lights and whether it is okay.

is it illegal to drive with interior lights on

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights On?

Generally, driving with interior lights on in the USA is legal. Nonetheless, depending on your state, some situations may prompt a penalty if the dome light is on. The logic behind being pulled over for driving with lights on is that they may impair your vision, thus, putting your life and other road users at risk.

Situations that may lead to traffic police stopping you from turning interior lights on include having dimming or flickering lights if they are too bright or if you have kids aboard. You may be advised to turn them off or be penalized as per the situation.

Read Also: Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In California?

California has strict traffic laws, but no code addresses the use of dome lights when driving at night. It is legal to use your dome lights at night, but you might get a citation if the highway patrolperson if the lights are distractive.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In Ohio?

Ohio is among the states with the most heavily enforced traffic laws. Driving with interior illumination is not an offense; an officer may stop you if it affects your coordination. You might get a ticket for careless driving.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In Texas?

It is legal to have your dome lights on when driving in Texas. However, there is the risk of distracted driving, which is punishable in the state. Blinking, dim, or extra bright interior lights can divert your attention, making you unaware of your surroundings. You may face a misdemeanor charge, which attracts a $25 to $100 fine.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In Florida?

You can drive with your dome lights on in Florida but don’t let them draw your attention away from the road. This also applies to other states. In short, it is not illegal to drive with interior lights on, but for safety, turn them off unless you really need them. When you need to use the lights, it is advisable to park your car and do what you want before getting back on the road.

The Legality of Driving with Interior Lights on In Other Countries

It is not against the law to have your interior lights on when driving in Australia, the European Union, Canada, and other countries. The situation resembles the USA, where you might get pulled over if the light appears distractive. In some EU countries, the rule of the road is the lights go off when the door shuts, meaning you should turn off the lights when driving for your safety.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights On

Why Is It Unsafe to Drive with Your Interior Lights On?

Despite not being criminal to drive with interior lights on, you should have them turned off for safety. The main issue is that the lights can be blinding, especially in bad weather. The interior lighting can be reflective, and the resultant glare will affect your visibility.

You might fail to notice oncoming traffic or interpret road signals, akin to careless driving. Whereas Dashboard lights should be bright, the intensity should not be excessive as it may distract you or lead to eye strain, which can have severe consequences.

Some cars have lights for the passenger section of the cabin. These lights can stay on when driving, as they don’t affect the driver’s visibility; however, observing traffic via the rearview mirror may be difficult.


Can You Have Light on In The Car While Driving?

No law prohibits driving with your interior lights on. Nevertheless, you should turn them off, as they may distract you. The glare can be too much, causing eye strain, which can be hazardous when driving at night or in bad weather. If you need to use the lights, stop the car and do the task before proceeding with your journey.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on in NSW?

Driving with interior lights on in Australia’s states is not criminal. While not an offense, a police officer might pull you over if they deem your driving skills impaired by the lights. The glare from the interior lamps can cause eye strain or distract you, resulting in careless driving, which attracts various penalties depending on their extent.

Why Can’t You Turn on The Light in The Car?

You can turn on the dome light in your car while driving, though it is advisable not to do so. The dome light illuminates the cabin and makes it easy to locate things and maybe read a map. This light is almost useless when driving, as you rely on the headlights to visualize the road ahead. The interior lights present problems like poor visibility, brought by its reflection, which can affect your coordination.

The lights might also distract you, exposing you to road accidents. Although you can turn on the lights, you should avoid doing so, especially in the driving space. Passengers can turn on specialized lights that focus on specific spots.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Thongs In NSW?

People believe many things to be traffic offenses when they are not, such as driving with thongs or barefoot. It is not a crime in New South Wales to be on thong sandals while driving, though it is not a wise move.

The argument against driving with thongs is that you may have less grip on the pedals or experience difficulty applying pressure; hence, you aren’t entirely in control of the vehicle.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In Canada?

The Canadian motor vehicle safety act does not have a clause touching on interior lighting, so it is legal to drive with lights on. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is alright, as you may compromise your safety and that of other road users due to the visibility issues the lights present.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on In Australia?

Australia does not prohibit driving at night with your interior lights on. Most people prefer turning them off as they can be uncomfortable and affect visibility. Additionally, there is the risk of getting stopped by highway patrol if the lights are distracting you. Distracted or careless driving will earn you a fine of at least $100 or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the situation.

Is It Illegal to Drive with Interior Lights on in NY?

New York traffic laws do not directly address driving with an illuminated cabin. It is not illegal to have the dome lights on, although it is better to have them off for your safety on the road. An officer can pull you over if the lights affect your wheel handling. If the illumination distracts you, you may get booked for reckless driving, which attracts a fine of $100 to $300 for first offenders.

Why Should Interior Lights Be Turned Off When an Area Is Not in Use?

Car interior lights are crucial for illuminating the cabin when it is dark. You should not have them on at all times, especially when driving at night, as it exposes you and other road users to accidents. They may distract you, or the glare can strain your eyes, affecting your on-road awareness. A patrolperson can stop you if you are driving recklessly due to the effect of the light, and you may get penalized for the offense.

Final Words

Many motorists are cautious about driving with interior lights on due to the fear of committing a traffic crime. It is not a crime to have the lights turned on, though you might be uncomfortable or distracted, which will compromise your safety and that of others on the road.

It is best to turn them off when driving, as it will save you from various troubles, including being pulled over by the cops. You should check your country’s or state’s laws about driving with lights on to be safe and avoid penalties.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

Recent Posts