It might be raining, but it won’t be raining tickets.
That’s the word from the State Police, who say they won’t be cracking down too hard Tuesday as a new state law requiring motorists to keep their headlights on when operating their windshield wipers takes effect.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said “absent any aggravating circumstances,” officers would likely give the public the benefit of the doubt as people drive home through the inclement weather, and initially issue warnings prior to writing citations for violations of the state’s new “Light Law.”
“We will use discretion and judgment. We understand that the public is going to need some time to become aware of the law,” Procopio said in an e-mail.
The new mandate, which was passed in January, says headlights must be in use when visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet in certain weather conditions or in low light. Headlights must also be on when a car’s windshield wipers are running.
Further, the Light Law calls for motorists to keep their headlights on from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
“The law is intended to increase safety and visibility of vehicles on the Commonwealth’s roadways,” according to a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Violations of the new law call for just a $5 fine. While that may not sound like much of a deterrent, drivers will also face an insurance surcharge that could increase premiums for several years, officials warned.
But Procopio said authorities would give operators time to adjust to the changes. State Police, along with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and Massachusetts Department of Transportation, launched a social media campaign to inform drivers about the new law.
“The goal of the law is to prompt drivers to perform an action that increases their safety and the safety of those around them, not necessarily to punish them,” Procopio said.
Procopio was unaware if any citations had been written on Tuesday, as rain passed through the area on the first day the law went into effect.
“I would expect the number to be very low, if any,” he said.
A word to the wise: More rain is expected over the next few days.