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Five California traffic laws that drivers might be confused about

December 18, 2011|By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times
  • State law says it is illegal to play any sound amplification system so loud that it can be heard 50 or more feet from the vehicle.
State law says it is illegal to play any sound amplification system so loud… (Mark Boster, Los Angeles…)

How well do you know traffic laws? Can you wear headphones while driving? Can you drive barefoot? Must you turn your headlights on when your windshield wipers are on? Here's a look at five laws you might not know:

• Earplugs: It's illegal in California to drive or bicycle while wearing "a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears." Exceptions are made for drivers of emergency vehicles and trash trucks, or anyone using "earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels."

• GPS: You can attach a unit to your windshield, but only to the lower corners of the driver's or passenger's side. Putting it anywhere in the middle is outlawed by the state.

• Headlights: You don't have to turn them on when using the windshield wipers unless the wipers are "in continuous use due to rain, mist, snow, fog, or other precipitation or atmospheric moisture."

• Radio: State law says it is illegal to play "any sound amplification system" so loud that it can be heard 50 or more feet from the vehicle. Anyone who has driven in Los Angeles knows this is not generally enforced.

• Barefoot: It's legal to drive shoeless, even on a motorcycle. That doesn't mean it's a good idea. "We obviously don't recommend it, but there's no law against it," said Officer Vinci Romer, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

scott.wilson@latimes.com

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