Is flashing your headlights at another car illegal in New Jersey?
Ever hear, "Don't flash your headlights at that car, that's illegal"? I have. In fact, I'm pretty sure both my parents and a bunch of my friends have told me something like that through the years.
Well, as my wife reminded me to shut off my brights as I passed an oncoming vehicle on Wednesday night, I thought it'd be good to really know what the law says here in New Jersey. So, I reached out to the amazing folks at the Toms River Police Department.
I'll be honest: I've heard that flashing your headlights is illegal or unwise for several reasons. For example, I've been told that gangs use flashing brights as a means of communicating with others and flashing those brights at someone could have negative consequences. Of course, I believe it to be an urban legend but worthy of asking the experts.
I reached out to police spokeswoman Jillian Messina and she worked with Traffic Safety Office, Steve Schwartz to get official answers. I must thank them so much for answering these questions and getting us strong, specific laws to share.
If you’re in the left lane and someone flashes their brights to get you to pull to the right so they can pass, is that illegal?
No, it is not illegal.
If someone flashes their brights to alert you to the police, an approaching accident, a deer or something else, is that illegal?
No, it is not illegal.
Is it ever illegal to use your brights to communicate?
There is no law forbidding their use for that specific purpose.
Do gangs use flashing brights as a way to communicate?
Sounds like an urban legend.
Here's what the state's motor vehicle and traffic code, sometimes referred to as "Title 39," has to say.
39:3-58. Multiple-beam road lighting
Approved multiple beam headlamps shall be so arranged that the driver may control the selection between different distributions of light subject to the following requirements and limitations:
There shall be an uppermost distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed and of such intensity as to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 350 feet ahead for all conditions of loading.
There shall be a lowermost distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 100 feet ahead; and on a straight level road under any condition of loading none of the high-intensity portion of the beam shall be directed to strike the eyes of an approaching driver.
39:3-60. Use of multiple-beam road lighting equipment
Every person driving a motor vehicle equipped with multiple-beam road lighting equipment, during the times when lighted lamps are required, shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, directed high enough and of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a safe distance in advance of the vehicle, subject to the following requirements and limitations: whenever the driver of a vehicle approaches an oncoming vehicle within five hundred feet, such driver shall use a distribution of light or composite beam so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver, and in no case shall the high-intensity portion which is projected to the left of the prolongation of the extreme left side of the vehicle be aimed higher than the center of the lamp from which it comes at a distance of twenty-five feet ahead, and in no case higher than a level of forty-two inches above the level upon which the vehicle stands at a distance of seventy-five feet ahead.