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Benson Bill to Require Motorists to Turn on Interior Lights When Stopped by Law Enforcement Gains Committee OK

Legislation Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson sponsored to require drivers who have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer at night or during periods of inclement weather to activate the vehicle’s interior light was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

“A law enforcement officer’s job involves facing dangerous – and potentially life-threatening – scenarios on a regular basis. Something as simple as having drivers turn on a car’s interior light can help an officer better assess a situation,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Increasing officers’ ability to see the inside of a vehicle ultimately will make it easier for them to fulfill their duty to keep the public safe.”

The bill (A-1695) would require a motorist to turn on the interior light of his or her vehicle when stopped by a law enforcement officer whenever the use of headlights is required or upon an officer’s request. New Jersey law requires the use of headlights from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, when windshield wipers are in use and whenever smoke, fog or any other atmospheric condition reduces visibility to 500 feet or less.

Refusal to comply with the bill’s provisions would result in a $50 fine.

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, of which Benson is chair.