California Prohibits Driving with Some Sunglasses

California Prohibits Driving with Some Sunglasses

by Brian Chou, OD, FAAO, FSLS

  • August 1, 2020

Yes, California really prohibits you from driving with certain sunglasses!  Have you noticed all the fashionable sunglasses with thick temples?  Frame designers often like thick temples because it allows them to incorporate design elements like their logo.  But what most do not know is that since 1959, California’s Vehicle Code prohibits wearing them while driving.  Specifically, if the eyewear temple thickness is ½ an inch or thicker and blocks your side vision, it can pose safety hazard, interfering with your ability to see motorists and pedestrians adjacent to you.  You can read the law here.

Interestingly, most law enforcement in California do not seem to know this, probably because the Vehicle Code is so voluminous.  Anecdotally, the large number of requirements provide law enforcement with many possible justifications to pull you over and search your car if they suspect something is amiss.  However, some of our patients have reported this law getting enforced in Riverside County, getting a hefty ticket.

The likelihood is that drivers will continue to wear thick temple sunglasses, oblivious to the actual regulations.  The highway patrol already has enough to enforce, from speeding, driving under the influence, seatbelt, distracted driving, expired registration tags, improperly tinted windows, carpool lane violations, and so forth.  The collective volume of possible driving violations can make the eyeglass temple law seem trivial.

Of course, you can still purchase thick-temple eyewear.  They often make an excellent accessory pair of eyeglasses to add to your wardrobe of other eyewear.  However, our staff at ReVision Optometry will advise you if any eyewear you receive from our eyewear selection does not fulfill California’s Vehicle Code requirements.  This is for your own safety, your passengers, and those around you.  Thick temple eyewear can interfere with side vision, much like blinders worn by a horse.

To schedule your comprehensive eye examination and eyewear selection, request your appointment at ReVision Optometry today.

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