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Ask The Times: Headlight enforcement varies
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Since it is a state law that headlights on low beam should be on when it's raining why don’t the police enforce this law?

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chris Dale said the agency has written 77 tickets in 2015 for vehicles not having headlights on when required.

The law requires headlights to be on from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, “at any time when it is raining in the driving zone and at any other time when there is not sufficient visibility to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.”

Dale said without looking at every ticket specifically, it isn’t possible to know how many of those 77 tickets involved headlights not being on in the rain.

The department doesn’t keep track of warnings for this offense, he added.

Dale said if an officer doesn’t stop someone violating that law, it may be that they have other duties at that time.

Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said the law is enforced, but “with laws like that, we try to educate first and foremost.” For instance, he said, many drivers of newer cars are accustomed to relying on their lights coming on automatically and tend to forget to switch them on in the rain. Holbrook said such an offense often draws a warning rather than a ticket for this reason.

Dale also said a general rule of thumb is that if windshield wipers are on that headlights also should be, while noting that “the law doesn’t work with rules of thumb.”

“Many other offenses are more specific and more easily articulated than this one,” Dale said.

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