Starting today, headlights are required in Massachusetts whenever your windshield wipers are on.  Oh, and also 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise (which has long been the case, actually).  You can access the sunrise and sunset calendar for Auburn HERE.

Massachusetts joins 18 other states that specifically require headlight use during wiper use.  The law was passed through the legislature back in December 2014, and was one of the last bills Gov. Deval Patrick signed on his way out of office. Failure to comply with the new law can result in a fine of up to $5.  Which is like two days’ worth of Dunkin’ large regulars with an espresso shot.

But the real kicker here is that headlight violations are also a surchargeable offense, meaning you’ll get dinged on your insurance rates.  That part is no joking matter.

The full text of the new law states:

A vehicle, whether stationary or in motion, on a public way, shall have attached to it headlights and taillights which shall be turned on by the vehicle operator and so displayed as to be visible from the front and rear during the period of 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise; provided, however, that such headlights and taillights shall be turned on by the vehicle operator at all other times when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, visibility is reduced such that persons or vehicles on the roadway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet or when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed; provided further, that this section shall not apply to a vehicle which is designed to be propelled by hand; and provided further, that a vehicle carrying hay or straw for the purpose of transporting persons on a hayride shall display only electrically operated lights which shall be 2 flashing amber lights to the front and 2 flashing red lights to the rear, each of which shall be at least 6 inches in diameter and mounted 6 feet from the ground.”

You read that right.  Evidently, the state hayride operator’s association successfully lobbied the legislature for some relief from the full requirements of this law.

Anyway, if there is poor visibility, and especially if you have to use your windshield wipers, starting today make sure you turn on your headlights. Judging by the numbers of drivers who forget to turn their headlights on at night, this may be easier said than done.