Verify: Can law enforcement patrol with headlights off at night?

VERIFY: Can law enforcement patrol with headlights off?

WMAZ viewer ReKina Johnson emailed us to ask if police vehicles are allowed to be on the side of the road without lights at night, so we set out to verify the answer. 

Friday afternoon, Macon resident Laura Beth Shealy merged onto Interstate 75 and didn't see many officers patrolling the highway, but that's not always the case. 

"I've been pulled over once or twice in my life," says Shealy, and she recalls that one of those times was at night. 

"I was actually out of town visiting my cousin, and we were driving home from dinner and this officer came out of nowhere and pulled me over. He must've had his lights off when he did, because I definitely did not see him," says Shealy. 

Shealy received a warning, but it does pose the question — is it legal for law enforcement officers to patrol at night without their headlights on?

Chelsea Beimfohr drove to the Bibb County Sheriff's Office to find out. 

"If you're out there speeding, we will catch you," says Bibb Deputy, Andrae Holmes. 

Holmes works in the traffic division and says according to Georgia statute 40-14-7, county and city law enforcement officers can patrol for speeders at night without their headlights on if they are pulled off the side of a road. 

"Yes, actually it's legal in the state of Georgia. We can have our lights off as long as we're visible within 500 feet," says Holmes. 

But how can patrol cars be visible at night without their headlights on?

"There are letters on our cars that are reflective. They illuminate once your headlights hit them. As long as your headlights work fine, they will illuminate," says Holmes. 

So, yes, we verified that local law enforcement officers can patrol at night without their headlights on.

Holmes says because they legally can patrol like this, Bibb deputies actually do pick up more speeders at night.

"A lot of people think they can get away with it because it's dark," says Holmes. 

But Holmes says that's not the case, and officers are just doing their jobs to keep the roads safe.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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