"It just doesn't make sense to me...it takes the public out of the safety question."
Under a new law passed by the Virginia General Assembly Friday, police officers in Virginia would no longer be able to make traffic stops for cars with no headlights, no taillights, no brake lights, illegal window tint and a slew of other "equipment violations."
The law also prevents law enforcement from performing traffic stops for overdue inspections or expired registration within three months.
"For a police officer not to be able to stop a vehicle at night or if it's raining—the law requires your headlights to be on. If a car is traveling along the highway at night with no brake lights or no headlights, isn't it just common sense to make sure the officer stops the person to make sure its ok?" Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor told the Star-Tribune Monday morning. "It goes beyond the driver of that car. For the safety of all the travelers on the highway, the bill makes no sense at all. No ring of common sense to it at all."
Taylor still wanted to remind the public that whatever the law is, his department will have to abide by it.
"If the governor signs this bill, we will of course adhere to what the law is," Taylor said.
Taylor said an amendment to the bill that would allow police to make traffic stops for these violations but not write a citation would make much more sense, but as the bill stands, it is lunacy.
"Just to have a car traveling on route 9, 57, 58 or on the back roads with no headlights or tail lights, it just does not have ring of common sense to me," Taylor continued. "I don't like the bill. I don't like the idea that people can just drive up and down the road with no lights on. It just doesn't make sense to me, as far as a public safety approach—it takes the public out of the safety question."
Taylor referred to the bill's "many moving parts," and wonders how this new law, if passed, could play into the court system.
"It's going to be interesting to see how a court is going to rule, if an individual doesn't see a car with its lights off and is struck by this car," he said. "How is a court going to rule? Is that person driving with defective equipment? The officers certainly can't charge them with it. Who's liable if you have injuries?"
"It just doesn't have any common sense to it at all," Taylor reiterated. "I don't support it in any measure, but again, if the governor signs it and it becomes law, then we will adhere to it."
Cars driving without lights at night are often a telltale sign of impaired driving.
Tinted windows have also been found to be more dangerous for drivers than non-tinted windows.
The law will see Gov. Northam's desk this week.