$248 Fine for Forgetting My Headlights

Hey Guys,

I got pulled over by the cops and received a fine for forgetting to turn my headlights & backlights on at night which I understand is dangerous and was genuinely a mistake on my part and I thought I had them on, I even saw the cops pull up behind me when I was at the red lights so if I knew they were off I would have turned them on.

I confused my start light with my headlights, the car I was driving has a headlights which come on when you start the car, which I thought were the actual headlights at the time, they don't look all that different until you're in a not so well lit area and I had just started to drive on the main road where it was really well lit.

Given I have never been fined for this before, I thought I'd at least get off with an official warning so I tried challenging this for an internal review when I received the fine but I had no luck with that. So now I can either pay the fine or challenge it in court.

I understand how dangerous it was but getting a fine for genuinely confusing my 2 headlights when I have a good driving record seems a bit extreme. The cop who fined me seemed like he was having a bad night, I was been pretty responsive and compliant through the whole exchange and he got super defensive pretty aggressive when I was surprised that my backlights weren't on.

Has anyone had any experience challenging fines in court? Or should I just fine pay the fine and get over it.
Maybe next time I'll get a car that has auto lights to avoid this experience all together..

Update:

Thanks everyone for your input. After reading the comments, I clearly didn’t know the difference between a DRL and headlights before this incident. I feel like people assume I forgot to turn on my headlights when I got confused by the two. I do always check for my headlights even during the day when I drive as I’ve had a near collision with someone in the past because they didn’t have their lights on. The car I was driving that night wasn’t my car, it was my first time driving it and I thought they were my headlights as they’re pretty bright for DRLs. The police didn’t even pick up on my headlights when they pulled me over they thought my taillights were broken until I played around with the lights to see what was going on. In hindsight, I should have asked the owner of the vehicle before I took off.

I’m obviously in the wrong for not having the correct lights on and I was just asking if anyone had any luck challenging it as the fine isn’t huge but still a fair amount for someone who lost their job to Covid. From reading the comments there seem to be payment options so this seems like a fair option.

I do hope for those of you that thinks that the punishment should have been harsher receive some compassion when you do something wrong because of an honest mistake in the future. Y’all making it out like I’m driving recklessly going 40kms over the speed limit while running reds.

Comments

  • +37 votes

    You are confusing headlights with daytime running lights (DRLs)

    DRLs do not turn your tail lights on.

    Does you dashboard light up as soon as you start the car day or night? This feature confuses many.

    • +6 votes

      It's going to get worse when digital dash gauges are a standard feature.

      •  

        Digital gauges are like dark and light modes usually.

    • +13 votes

      Most dashboard are lit up day and night these days.

      • +1 vote

        Depends whether the driver sets it to full brightness when the headlights are on, which is normally way too bright for night driving

        •  

          i miss that feature in my 90s corolla - dial to turn up/down brightness and only lights up at night with headlights on

          • +2 votes

            @capslock janitor:

            dial to turn up/down brightness

            Whether it's a dial or a button, every car has this feature still…

            • +1 vote

              @spackbace: my bad i should put more emphasis on the dash "only lights up at night with headlights on" which is the bigger feature i appreciate

      • +1 vote

        Same, my dash is always lit up. I have forgotten to turn my headlights on before, so easy to do, especially if you say enter a car park while its light, then leave when its dark but the car park is well lit so you don't notice it, then if the roads are busy enough and there is street lights you can easily not notice.

        Personally I think a near $300 fine is a bit over the top. It's not like we have an epidemic of motorists driving around without their lights on, I rarely see it, in comparison we see people speeding all the time.

        I would have thought a warning would have sufficed.

    • +16 votes

      If OP, relies on whether the dashboard lights up to know if head lights are on, rather than checking if the "head light" indicator/lamp is active, that's the lesson.

      "The world's greatest teacher is pain." at $248.

  • +25 votes

    Courts won’t help you if you are clearly guilty, you yourself have admitted to it anyways…

    You’ll just be wasting your time and resources over a lost cause. $248 isn’t that much, when you think about going to a court over it.

    •  

      Watch Caught in Providence and you'll be surprised how lenient some judges can be.

      •  

        Okay thanks

        I’ll check it out 👍🏻

      • +16 votes

        In Australia, they’re only lenient to crooks and junkies.

        • +3 votes

          Did you expect any different living in a country founded on convicts?

        • +11 votes

          come on now…also politicians and celebrities.

          edit: oops you already said those.

    • +5 votes

      Again, avoid legal advice from Ozbargain.

      "Court's won't help you if you are clearly guilty" is not very accurate again. I (might) be mistaken but it is unlikely this offence has a mandatory fine. So, you could plead guilty and ask the Court to give you a different sentence./penalty that does not involve a fine, such as a good behaviour bond or a reduced fine, or a dismissal (but you are still guilty). You do this by pleading guilty, and doing a brief plea of your mitigating circumstances. Judge's discretion, but decent chance if you explain/show you have lost your job because of covid and the circumstances of driving a new car, the fine could be reduced. There is also a risk that the fine remains plus you pay court costs of between $100-200 on top. So mileage varies.

  • +75 votes

    Pay the fine.
    Check your lights are on.

    • +11 votes

      This is the only correct answer, I have seen accidents caused by people failing to have their headlights on in low light situations and it's really not fair on the others involved in the accident when it could have been so easily avoidable

    •  

      i believe the law says that even before you drive your vehicle, you need to do a walk around to ensure all the lights are actually working - isn't it?

      Furthermore, you need to make sure your headlights are on?

      • +16 votes

        I haven't heard of that law before.

        That said, it was an instant death in Police Quest 1 if you didn't.

        • +1 vote

          Halt!

        • +2 votes

          "Kick tyres"
          "Don't be so violent, Sonny"

  • +49 votes

    Its amazing how many dark cars you see driving with no lights on at all in bad weather or after dark on the freeways in Melb…. every day

    • +11 votes

      FTFY "Its amazing how many cars you see driving with no lights on at all"

      • +4 votes

        I actually notice far more cars with only one working light and other burnt out. Particularly taxis for some reason. Also very dangerous.

        • -10 votes

          Its amazing how many dark cars

          Why does the shade or colour of the car matter? Are we car-racist now?

          • +6 votes

            @Kangal: This week i've witnessed 6 black coloured cars without their headlights on this week alone.

            The issue with black cars in the dark or even dark colours, is that at night, they become completely invisible, especially if it's raining, and especially if they're beside you or behind you are you are merging.

            This is why darker coloured cars attract a higher insurance premium also.

            • -6 votes

              @Gallifr3y: I didn't know that they increase your insurance fee. Personally, in poor visibility or the dark if I can't see a White car in the dark, I won't see a Black car either and vice versa. Though you may be right in specific lower light scenarios.

              • +12 votes

                @Kangal: Lighter colours reflect photons, and dark colours absorb them, which make the former more visible than the latter.
                These are scientific facts, and has nothing to do with being "car-racist".

            •  

              @Gallifr3y: Is this true? I've just bought my first black car. The last car was written off in a not at fault accident and we bought the same year and car but the luxury model and put down the extra $100 insurance down to being a step up in comfort…but colour.

    •  

      Really? In normal circumstances I would drive to work while its dark in the morning and usually be driving home when it is either dark or getting dark (most of the year anyway) and I rarely see it.

      • +1 vote

        I occasionally do a 6am starting shift while most are noon or 4pm starts and I've noticed the early morning traffic has a much higher quality of driver than my other commutes.

        •  

          I agree with this. Early morning shift work drivers are among the best in my experience too.

  • +53 votes

    " The cop who fined me seemed like he was having a bad night, I was been pretty responsive and compliant through the whole exchange and he got super defensive pretty aggressive when I was surprised that my backlights weren't on."

    I'll re-word that for you…

    "The cop who was doing his job, enforcing the road rules for the betterment of ALL road users (not just you) was having a fine night, but was frustrated by drivers who don't know how to operate switches in their car. I was been pretty responsive and compliant through the whole exchange and he got tired and bored of listening to your whining about how great a driver you are and you've never had a ticket and you're safe and everything and could he PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE let you off with a warning, when advising you for the third time that he was going to give me a ticket and not let me off for driving around with no rear lights at night because I don't know how my car works"

    :)

    You're welcome

    • +36 votes

      Come on, yes the OP clearly made a mistake here and the fine was issued in accordance with the road rules, but you don't know that's anything like how the conversation went unless you were there to hear it. No need to mock anyone.

      • +3 votes

        I think everyone is taking the piss because OP Is still trying to make excuses.

        If OP was like "I was an idiot for driving without lights got fined. Genuine mistake but was wondering if there was any scope for leniency…" people might be nicer

    • +9 votes

      "driving around with no rear lights at night because I don't know how my car works"

      / endthread

      •  

        That could also be interpreted as not knowing how to drive a car. I.e. Using the light switches & attention to detail is also part of driving.

    •  

      Why re-word it? It was much more factual and truthful as it was stated by the OP.

      • -1 vote

        The only facts are that the OP didn't have his lights on and got a ticket. Everything else is his opinion on the mood of the cop, the OP's great attitude etc …

    •  

      That was a woeful piece of writing, and to top it off, you think you made a good point.

  • +37 votes

    Do you honestly think 'I forgot' is a legitimate basis to challenge the fine in court?

    Stop wasting everyone's time, pay the fine, learn your lesson and move on.

    • +4 votes

      Where would it stop?
      I forgot my headlights, I forgot to put my seatbelt on, I forgot to stop for the red light, I forgot which side of the road to drive on.

      • +1 vote

        I forgot to learn how to operate a vehicle before I operated it.

        •  

          Well if you can't open the door you can't fined ;)

          • +2 votes

            @blank-404: Dukes of Hazzard has entered the chat

            •  

              @dtorr: Those damn Duke boys are at it again!

    • +6 votes

      Mistake of fact is a legitimate defence.

      Hit the wrong button and on a well lit road no reason to believe they weren’t on.

      There is a reasonable argument for a not guilty verdict.

    •  

      I agree with this, forgetting is not a legitimate defense, it's called neglegence

      Depending on the colour of the car, and the time of day, it can sometimes be basically impossible to see a car coming.

      After dusk your brain starts looking for headlights more than for cars

      This "simple mistake" could have cost people their lives

      $248 fine is totally reasonable

  • +10 votes

    Could a warning have sufficed in this situation? Somewhere between possibly and probably depending on a range of factors.

    Is it worth fighting the fine? Up to you, but if all you're up for is $248, I reckon you'll spend more in time and effort to get off it, but with the probability that you won't get off it. In other words, if you fight it the probability is that you'll be worse off than you would be just by paying it.

  • +11 votes

    if you have time, go to court, plead guilty, ask for leniency and given this is your first offense, you might have the fine waived. the demerit point if any will still apply.

  • +34 votes

    This is one of my pet peeves. Learn how your car works and use it properly. Chances are if the car has DRL's, it also has auto headlights, you just have them set to off.
    Pay the fine and don't waste the court's time.

  • +8 votes

    Pay the fine and learn your lesson. I wish there were more cops about to hand these fines out. It is incredibly dangerous especially to pedestrians.

    Imagine if you actually hit someone. You'd be up fo4 a lot more than 250 bucks.

  • +18 votes

    You shouldn't be driving if you don't understand how the controls of the car work.

  • +3 votes

    Just pay the fine, learn the lesson and move on !

  • +13 votes

    I bet after paying that fine, you won't be as likely forget to turn on your lights from now on.

      • +4 votes

        Yes I agree, that's not the point I am arguing though. It was obviously an honest mistake and if it's the cops job to keep people safe then, as I said, he should have pulled the OP over and alerted him to the fact that his headlights were off thereby mitigating the danger. The ridiculous fine was unnecessary and just revenue raising.

        " had a few close calls myself so whenever I see people driving on Princes Highway without their lights on at night or heavy rain, it just makes my blood boil… and I am happy coppers fine such people."

        But that's just petty spite. Why would you be happy to see someone punished for what is most likely an honest mistake?

        • +5 votes

          As has already been said, a warning goes a little way, a ticket…..well the OP will probably check his lights EVERY day / night now…..much more effective.

        • +4 votes

          That honest mistake could have resulted in a another forum thread titled "Got into an accident, I am at fault and don't have insurance. What to do?!?"

          I always make a conscious effort to turn my headlights on when it is raining, the sun is setting or it is really cloudy so I could be seen by others more easily, and I expect other people to do the same.

        • +1 vote

          It was obviously an honest mistake

          The only mistake op made was not to spend an hour with the cars user manual and becoming familiar with its functions.

          Case in point…

          the car I was driving has a headlights which come on when you start the car, which I thought were the actual headlights

        • +2 votes

          An honest mistake that means OP would have never driven with proper headlights on until something bad happened.

        • +1 vote

          for what is most likely an honest mistake?

          OP claims honest mistake, as clearly that helps influence peoples' thoughts on them, yet it shows a lack of understanding when driving.

          Dunno about you, but I'd prefer that people who are in control of 2T objects know how to operate them…

          Case in point

    • +9 votes

      (movie trailer voice)

      In a world based on the cold totalitarian works of George Orwell's 1984 … and the ridiculousness of circus clowns.. one man dares to fight the power by forgetting to turn his headlights on and then hope that the money-hungry police state will decide not to enforce that law.

      But the overlords are playing by the rules, and they know all about the infractions, even the minor ones that have little quote marks around them which sort-of imply they aren't infractions at all because they're 'infractions', not infractions. Even those ones.

      Starring TightBum as Driver and EightImmortals as Confused Poster Dragging Insular Conspiracy Theories Into Otherwise Ordinary Discussions in…

      OrWeLl CloWn WoRlD - rated R, for 'Really Something That Is Actually Happening'

      •  

        haha, OK that deserves a thumbs up. :)

        Just one corrections, the overlords aren't 'playing by the rules', they make the rules and then only play by them when it suits them. :)

        • +1 vote

          I think the 51km an hour in a 50km zone is a good example of the concepts you're discussing but I think you're a bit off on the headlight one (FWIW) - basically everyone who leaves their headlights off is doing it by mistake (the only instances where someone would be knowingly driving without headlights are people with a car that doesn't have working headlights or actual sociopaths looking to cause accidents - both of who would always deserve to be fined) - so as others have said above, it's a road safety issue that's so egregious it has to warrant the penalty. The "oops I accidentally forgot" crowd aren't going to get any better at remembering based off a 30 second stern lecture from a cop, etc.

  •  

    I copped once too at 6am at sunrise.
    nothing you can do, just pay.
    i'm surprised at the number of cars with no lights on the road.

  • +5 votes

    The cop who fined me seemed like he was having a bad night

    He was probably sick and tired of pulling up drivers without their headlights on and hearing the same old excuses about it being their first time and how they have driven for umpteen years without getting pulled over etc.

    Pay the fine, it'll be a good life lesson.

  • +3 votes

    I understand is dangerous and was genuinely a mistake on my part
    I confused my start light with my headlights
    I understand how dangerous it was

    All other reasons you've stated is not relevant.

    It's your car, you should know better. This is likely to mean, this happened before, you were not aware and you didn't get pulled by the cops.

    Let this be a lesson, so that you do the right thing next time.

  • +1 vote

    Pay the fine. Be grateful that you didn't find out by having someone slam into you!

  • +1 vote

    Cop ones pulled me over for driving without lights on, then when he try to write a fine but he couldn't find the offence code, apparently at that time, its was only applicable for highways (15+ years ago) not in suburbs and let me go with a warn. Just in case, just doble check the offence code before visiting the court.

    •  

      Thanks for this, I checked the code just before, seems like they used the right one. Probably why they had to mail me the fine instead of giving it to me in the spot. I’ll just have to cop it on the chin

  •  

    I would like to know if there is a secret 'one brake light' club that I don't know about?

    The number of vehicles with only one brake light working constantly amazes me that I am now convinced it must be some kind of secretive cult akin to the masons.

    Have a look next time you go out… I guarantee you will see one. Its one of those things that once you know about you will see them everywhere.

    Oh - and if it is a secretive members only club can anyone shed (one brake) light on what its all about.

    • +2 votes

      You idiot!
      Don't you know the first rule of One Brake Light Club is…

  • -1 vote

    Move to NSW, it's only $119 and 1 demerit here.

    Strange you didn't get a warning after sending in a request for leniency (or did you ask for a "review").

    Ring them up, ask to be put on the absolute minimum payment plan (something like $10~$20/fortnight.)

    Or go and have your day in court, get the experience. Plead guilty, show your exemplary driving record and ask for "leniency" tell them you have learned your lesson and request whatever your state's version of a section 10 (google it). You will probably be let off with no fine, but with court costs that will be about 1/2 the fine's initial cost.

    • -2 votes

      I didn't know it costs to go to court and fight a fine!

      Imagine fighting, and losing! That would suck. Fine+court fees

      $119 could we'll turn into $219 :(

      • +2 votes

        You're not "fighting" it. Fighting it would be if you believe you are innocent and being charged with an offence you believe you didn't do.

        If you have a good driving record, you can go and plead guilty with an explanation. Quite often the magistrate will just dismiss it if you are genuinely repentant and have a clean driving history.

        I've been to court a few times both for myself and as an emotional support animal for some friends and all have been dismissed and some without even having to pay court costs (YMMV).

        The court system is interesting to be a part of and something people should experience at least once in their life, and it's a small price to have that experience. Sure, it "could" end up more expensive, but generally, if you are honest, genuine and have a good record, they are not going to throw the book at you over a single infringement, especially if the people before and after you are have over 10 or 15 infringements each they are fighting.

        I'm not sure with my negs if I offended the "iT's jUsT ReVeNuE rAiSiNg, Ya'LL jUsT gOvErNmEnT bOoT LiCkErZ!" crowd or the "did the crime, pay the fine" crowd.

  • -3 votes

    Aside from everything else you need to recognise the Victorian Government is broke and will be raising all the revenue they can. Even more-so given road traffic fines are well down due to the lock down

  •  

    My dad did the same thing on a trip to the USA, the daytime running lights were bright so he didn't realize he needed to turn on the actual lights. Let me tell you we were terrified after hearing all the stories and didn't know why we were getting pulled over.

    Cop comes up, "may I ask why you don't have your lights on today?"

    My dad, "I'm sorry I didn't know! It's a rental!"

    Cop asks where we are going, just down the road, so he tells us to get going and be very careful.

    When we got to the hotel we figured out what happened and dad was very confused.

    •  

      Generally speaking, the only ones that give fines out in the US are the cops on motorcycles. If they'd have pulled you over, it's 100% a fine. No escaping.

  • +6 votes

    I understand how dangerous it was but getting a fine for genuinely confusing my 2 headlights when I have a good driving record seems a bit extreme.

    No, by your admission, you got a fine for doing something dangerous, not for confusing your 2 headlights.

    Has anyone had any experience challenging fines in court? Or should I just fine pay the fine and get over it.

    I don't get why people always have this mentality of trying to challenge things in court. What exactly are you challenging?

    You challenge something in court when you didn't actually do what you were accused of doing such that the prosecution will have to go up and present evidence to the magistrate/judge that you did what you were accused of doing. Then it becomes a battle of the evidence.

    In this case, both you (the defendant) and the cops (the prosecution) actually agree. Both sides agree that you didn't have your headlights on, so what would you want the magistrate to adjudicate? There is no disagreement, so I genuinely don't understand what you are trying to achieve.

  • +16 votes

    Hate drivers like you. I flashed a guy over 8 times and he was still clueless about his lights.

    • +2 votes

      Pretty sure you'd get a fine for flashing your head lights if a cop saw it.

      •  

        What road rules apply to flashing headlights and/or highbeams?

        Edit: found it, in NSW it's 218-1(d):

        The driver of a vehicle must not—
        (d) flash any headlight…

        In VIC our rule 218 is different. Closest I am finding is 219:

        A driver must not use, or allow to be used, any light fitted to or in the driver's vehicle to dazzle, or in a way that is likely to dazzle, another road user.

        Open to interpretation whether flashing your lights would be "likely to dazzle"

        •  

          It's 218 in Victoria since flashing lights at someone is usually achieved with high beams:

          Using headlights on high-beam
          (1) The driver of a vehicle must not use the vehicle's headlights on high-beam, or allow the vehicle's headlights to be used on high-beam, if the driver is driving—

             (a)     less than 200 metres behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the driver; or
          
             (b)     less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle.
          

          Penalty: 5 penalty units.

          Note

          High-beam and oncoming vehicle are defined in the dictionary.

          (2) However, if the driver is overtaking a vehicle, the driver may briefly switch the headlights from low-beam to high-beam immediately before the driver begins to overtake the vehicle.

          Note

          Low-beam and overtake are defined in the dictionary.

      •  

        Rather risk that than someone getting hit by an idiot who people can't see.

  • +7 votes

    To effect behavioural change, the consequences must be sufficiently toxic that the subject wishes to avoid a repetition.
    $248 fine sounds like it may have hit the sweet spot to effect the required change.

    • -1 vote

      To effect behavioural change, the consequences must be sufficiently toxic that the subject wishes to avoid a repetition.
      Do you honestly believe that's how fines work?

      • +1 vote

        Do you honestly think people like paying fines and/or don't care one way or the other if they've been fined?

        •  

          Do you honestly think people like paying fines and/or don't care one way or the other if they've been fined?

          Not what I was implying but yeps, there are people who consider speeding tickets as a normal cost of driving - they don't care.