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Caught on a Dash Cam: Police Blinds Civilian with Dangerous High Beams - - BlackboxMyCar Canada

Caught on a Dash Cam: Police Blinds Civilian with Dangerous High Beams

Have you ever experienced how distracting it is for your eyes to have a sudden stream of light striking at them, whether it's bright sunlight during the day or high beams at night?

At some point, we all have, forcing us to squint, cover our eyes, and lose focus on the road. Unfortunately, this incident happened to Christopher Marquez a few weeks ago and temporarily blinded him for a period of time. 

After landing in LAX from his out-of-town trip, Marquez began his usual 2-hour drive up the I-5 towards Bakersfield, California. He made it to CA-99 with smooth sailing, as he took his usual off-ramp to his home. Along the way, Marquez had to take an uphill 270° turn near the edge of a hill, which locals call The Bluffs.

While the specific location was already dangerous during the night, Marquez encountered another challenge which almost blinded him. While executing the turn, a policeman driving a marked Bakersfield Police Department Vehicle used its spotlight to illuminate his actively moving vehicle. This incident temporarily blinded Marquez while he drove alone on this dark road. If Marquez was less attentive, he could have been disoriented, causing an accident as he overshot his turn.

According to Marquez, the police vehicle made no effort to stop or communicate with him in any other way. It happened within seconds, but the painful, blinding effect of the high beams lasted longer. Despite being alone, Marquez was able to catch everything that happened on his BlackVue dashcam.

According to California’s Vehicle code 24404 section E, “no spot lamp when in use shall be directed so as to illuminate any other moving vehicle.”

However, it also states this does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles – including the police.

Clearly, the high beams of police or any other vehicle can pose a danger to drivers and other road users, but the exemption above continues to raise concerns about the need for clearer standards and accountability. Every driver deserves a safe road, don’t we?

Beyond frustration, Marquez also wanted to raise public awareness. Later, he took advantage of his dash cam recording, uploading the video and expressing his concerns on Reddit's online community forum.

To his surprise, the video quickly gained attention, receiving over a hundred thousand views in only a few days. It also sparked a flood of reactions from other drivers who claimed to have encountered similar situations with other drivers and the authorities. Some also posted their own dash cam footage, showing how frequently the high-beam incidents have been happening.

Until it reached the local news. Quoting Marquez: "I've given two interviews today because of it. The story will be released … via KGET, KBAK, and KBFX, respectively. With any luck, the video captured on my BlackVue dashcam can help bring about meaningful change within our local police department." Read the full news story published by KGET here.

On the other hand, after being shown the dash cam evidence, Bakersfield Police Sergeant Andrew Tipton acknowledged the spotlight's possible misuse. In a statement, he acknowledged that the department may be using an excessively powerful light source, raising worries about the safety consequences for drivers on the road.

“We’ve gotten complaints about these spotlights before. We’ll look into them. The technology has changed, and these lights are brighter than before, and we as a department need to adapt about how we use these tools and what we’re using them to do '' Stated Sergeant Tipton.

In his story, the dash cam not only served as proof, but also sparked a larger discussion about imposing clearer regulations and accountability, improving police behaviour, and further promoting driving safety. Thanks to Marquez's BlackVue dash cam, he was able to share the incident with a personal perspective, while also speaking for the majority of the driving community – including you and I.

Drive safe out there everyone, and if you experience similarly dangerous obstacles on the road, speak up. Having the evidence of the altercation ensures you never have to struggle alone, with your silent witness, a dash cam.

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