We’ve all been the victim of an oncoming vehicle unwittingly blinding us by leaving their fog lights on.
Believe it or not, it is actually illegal to drive with your fog lights on in any conditions except in foggy or particularly hazardous weather, so it's against the rules to just switch them on in a tunnel or when it gets dark.
Almost every state across Australia has penalties for anyone caught breaking this rule, with penalties ranging from triple-figure fines and the threat of demerit points being added to your licence.
The fog lights ruling
The rules surrounding fog lights use are virtually the same no matter which state you are in.
These rules were set out in the National Transport Commission’s Australian Road Rules guide in which Rule 217 states: "that drivers must not operate fog lights unless driving in foggy or severely hazardous conditions".
It’s a blanket rule adapted by all states across the country and can be applied to either the rear or front set of lights if not both.
The rule does not apply to either front headlights or rear tail-lights.
Fog lights are usually located under the headlights and tail-lights, lower down on a car's rear and front bumpers and angled in a way so as to cut beneath dense fog.
Most cars have a separate switch for switching fog lights on and there is usually a light on the dashboard which indicates they have been activated.
Almost all states require front fog lights to have a flat beam of light that covers the direct surface in front of the bumper.
However, the Northern Territory has twisted the rule by requiring that front headlights need to be angled downwards to prevent other motorists from being blinded by the lights.
The penalties for leaving your fog lights on
Most states have adopted fairly harsh penalties for unnecessarily driving with your fog lights on with a mixture of fines and demerit points being handed out to offending drivers.
The rulings vary from state to state though with each regulatory body handing out the following penalties:
NSW: For offending drivers in NSW, driving with your fog lights unnecessarily will cost you a fine of $116 but there are no demerit points attached to this offence.
VIC: Should you get caught in Victoria driving with your fog lights on incorrectly, you face a fine of $161 without any demerit points being issued.
QLD: According to the Queensland Road Rules 2009 Act, anyone caught driving with fog lights on in clear conditions faces a fine of $55 but no demerit points. However, if you are found to have lights on that could dazzle a motorist, that carries a penalty of 1 demerit point.
SA: South Australia has the harshest financial penalty for offending drivers as anyone caught using fog lights when not permitted faces a fine of $265.
WA: Whilst Western Australia has just a $100 fine for inappropriate use of fog lights, the penalty also comes with the issuing of one demerit point to your licence.
TAS: Tasmania punishes offending drivers with a hefty $130 fine for use of fog lights when not permitted without issuing any demerit points.
ACT: Whilst there are no longer demerit points issued for driving with your fog lights on, you still face a fine of $100 should you get caught in the ACT.
NT: In the Northern Territory, the fog light ruling is slightly more complicated. The front lights must be angled down towards the road instead of having a flat beam. Anyone caught with incorrectly mounted lights or not using fog lights could face a fine of three penalty units which equates to a significant fine of $471.
It’s a good idea to pay close attention then to your dash and quickly switch off your fog lights should you see the icon for them lighting up.
Otherwise, you could be facing a rather weighty penalty for a few minutes of not paying attention, as well as being that irritating person who blinds others with your fog lights.
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