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Headlight Use Laws for All 50 States

Headlight Law

You may never think about your headlights, especially if you have automatic headlights on your vehicle. If you don't, you probably turn them on when it gets too dark for you to see. However, laws govern when and how you use them, and you can end up with a ticket if you aren't in compliance.

Here is a list of laws for headlight usage, as well as high beams and hazard lights for all 50 states.

Alabama

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be turned on when visibility is at 500 feet or below.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic at 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following vehicles within 200 feet.

Hazards

  • No restrictions

Alaska

Headlights

  • Headlights must be on at least a half-hour after sunset until a half-hour before sunrise.
  • Headlights are also required any time you cannot see a vehicle at least 1000 feet in front of you.

High Beams

  • A vehicle may not use high beam headlights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or 300 feet of a vehicle in front of you.

Hazards

  • Hazard lights are restricted when driving. They may only be in use when the vehicle is disabled.

Arizona

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights should be used in snow and ice.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching traffic is within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of another vehicle.
  • High beams should not be used in fog.

Hazards

  • Hazards should be activated whenever your vehicle is stopped on the roadway or shoulder of the road.

Arkansas

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are turned on.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching traffic is within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of another vehicle.
  • High beams should not be used in fog, rain or snow.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights should only be used when your vehicle is disabled or to signal caution for other drivers.

California

Headlights

  • It is the law in California to have headlights on when it’s raining, foggy, snowing or even cloudy. If you must use your windshield wipers, you are required to have your headlights on.
  • You must have your headlights on if you cannot see at least 1,000 feet in front of you.
  • You must turn on your headlights at least 30 minutes after sunset and not turn them off until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • The California driver’s handbook also recommends using headlights on country roads or up in the mountains even on sunny days to make it easy for other drivers to see you.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are allowed when a vehicle is disabled within 10 feet of the road.
  • Hazard lights are also permitted to warn other motorists of hazards or a funeral procession.

Colorado

Headlights

  • Headlights must be turned on from sunset to sunrise or when you cannot see at least 1000 feet in front of you.

  • Parking lights must be illuminated on any vehicle parked alongside the roadway, whether attended or not, from sunset to sunrise or whenever you cannot see at least 1000 feet in front of you.

High Beams

  • High beams or fog lights must be dimmed when approaching traffic is within 500 feet.
  • High beams or fog lights must also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of another vehicle.
  • High beams should not be used in fog; low beams or fog lights are appropriate.

Hazards

  • No restrictions

Connecticut

Headlights

  • You must have two headlamps on and they must be mounted at least 22 inches above the ground but not more than 54 inches. .
  • They must display either a white or amber light, which is visible at least 1,000 feet in front of the vehicle.

High Beams

  • High beam lights must be turned down when a vehicle approaches to within 500 feet.
  • If the vehicle is approaching another vehicle from behind, the lights must be turned on low beam when the vehicle is within 300 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Delaware

Headlights

  • Two white lights are required with multiple beams, one on each side of the front of the vehicle.
  • Headlights are required anytime windshield wipers are in use.
  • Headlights are to be installed between 54 inches and 24 inches from the ground.
  • Headlights are required when driving after sunset and before sunrise or when you cannot see more than 1000 feet in front of you.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off a minimum of 500 feet when meeting another vehicle or 200 feet when approaching from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • Flashing lights are not allowed except for emergency vehicles and other special classifications, such as school buses.
  • These lights may also be used to indicate a traffic hazard.

District of Columbia

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.
  • Headlights must be turned on whenever visibility is less than 500 feet.
  • Any time windshield wipers are on, the headlights must also be turned on.
  • Parking lights are never to be used when driving.

High Beams

  • High beams are to be used in open country.
  • High beams should not be used with street lights.
  • Switch from high beams to low beams a minimum of 500 feet when meeting oncoming traffic or at 300 feet when approaching a vehicle from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Florida

Headlights

  • Keep headlights turned on between sunset and sunrise.
  • Low beams are most effective when traveling up to 25 MPH.

High Beams

  • These lights are most effective when used for traveling above 25 MPH.
  • You must turn high beams off when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic or 300 feet when approaching the vehicle from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only to be used when your vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the road or disabled on the roadway.

Georgia

Headlights

  • Headlights are required at all times between 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when it is raining or with limited visibility.

High Beams

  • High beams are to be used only in rural areas.
  • Switch off high beams when you are within 500 feet of oncoming traffic or 200 feet behind another vehicle.
  • You cannot use high beams on lighted roads or when driving in fog, rain, snow or smoke.
  • You are not allowed to use high beams when visibility is less than 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Hawaii

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights are also required when visibility is less than 500 feet.
  • Drivers must turn on headlights when atmospheric conditions are unfavorable or the light is insufficient to see.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when meeting oncoming traffic.

Hazard Lights

  • These lights are intended to be used only when warning other drivers that your vehicle is stopped in a dangerous location.
  • Never use these lights when moving.

Idaho

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights are also necessary when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when approaching from behind to within 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only allowed when indicating a traffic hazard to other drivers.

Illinois

Headlights

  • Headlights are required to be on by state law whenever the windshield wipers are in use. It’s also recommended to have them on in fog.
  • Headlights must be on from dusk to dawn.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed at least 500 feet from an oncoming vehicle or 300 feet when approaching from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • These light are to be used to let other drivers know about a parked or disabled vehicle.

Indiana

Headlights

  • Headlights must be on between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be turned down when vehicle is within 500 feet of oncoming traffic or when it is within 200 feet when approaching from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only permitted while driving to indicate an emergency.
  • Hazard lights may be used to indicate a disabled vehicle along the roadway.

Iowa

Headlights

  • You must use your headlights between sunset to sunrise and anytime visibility is 500 feet or less.

High Beams

  • You must turn off your high beams when you are within 1000 feet of oncoming traffic or when you are within 400 feet of approaching from behind another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Use your hazard lights only when your vehicle is parked to alert other drivers that you are stopped or your car is disabled.

Kansas

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from sunset to sunrise.
  • Drivers must turn on their headlights when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • Headlights are also required when the windshield wipers are on.
  • Headlights are necessary when driving through fog or smoke.

High Beams

  • Switch from high beams when other vehicles are approaching or when driving in fog.

Hazard Lights

  • Use your hazard lights to show your vehicle is parked and disabled.

Kentucky

Headlights

  • You must have two headlights. They must be on at least 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must be on when visibility is low.
  • White or amber lights are allowed.

High Beams

  • High beams must be strong enough to provide visibility to see a person at least 350 in front of you.
  • You must switch to low beams when you are within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle. If you are approaching from behind, you must switch off your high beams when you are within 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are prohibited except when using a signal light to indicate a turn or when warning others about traffic hazards.

Louisiana

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use anytime windshield wipers are in use.
  • Drivers must turn on the headlights when visibility is 500 feet or less.
  • Headlights are also necessary when weather conditions limit visibility.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following behind another vehicle within 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only permitted to indicate a disabled vehicle along the road.

Maine

Headlights

  • Headlights are to be on from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must be on if the windshield wipers are in constant use.
  • Headlights must be used when visibility is less than 1000 feet.

High Beams

  • You must switch from high beams to low beams when oncoming traffic is within 500 feet or if you approach to within 300 feet from behind a vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only permitted when driving to indicate a hazard for other drivers.

Maryland

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use when visibility is below 1000 feet.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are in use.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off when traveling within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be switched to low beams when following a vehicle within 300 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used in emergency situations.

Massachusetts

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights are also required when visibility is less than 500 feet.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are turned on.
  • You must ensure headlights are on when driving through a tunnel.

High Beams

  • Low beams are required when you are within 500 feet of approaching traffic.
  • High beams must be switched to low beams when following vehicles within 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights must be used when the vehicle is disabled.

Michigan

Headlights

  • Headlights are to be displayed between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must be turned on when it is snowing, raining, sleeting or hailing.
  • The use of headlights is required when visibility is below 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off whenever oncoming traffic is within 1000 feet or you are approaching a vehicle from behind at 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard light are permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of dangerous conditions.
  • All other flashing lights are prohibited.

Minnesota

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights must be used during rain, snow, hail, sleet, and fog.
  • Headlights must also be turned on when you cannot see more than 500 feet ahead of you.

High Beams

  • High beams should be used whenever possible.
  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching traffic is within 1000 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of another vehicle.
  • High beams should not be used for parked cars.
  • High beams should be dimmed when driving behind a commercial vehicle at night.

Hazards

  • Hazard lights should be used to alert other drivers or emergency personnel if you have to park on the side of the highway or become stranded in cold weather.
  • Hazard lights should be used to alert other drivers if your windshield wipers fail, your hood suddenly blows open, your gas pedal sticks, or your vehicle is otherwise disabled while driving.
  • Hazard lights are also permitted to warn other motorists of a funeral procession.
  • All other flashing lights are prohibited.

Mississippi

Headlights

  • Headlights are required between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off when oncoming traffic is within 500 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard light are only allowed to indicate a disabled vehicle along the side of the road.

Missouri

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • You must use the headlights anytime you have windshield wipers on.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off when oncoming traffic is within 500 feet.
  • You must also switch off the high beams when you approach a vehicle from behind to within 300 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Montana

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use a half-hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.
  • Headlights are required when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching within 1000 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 500 feet behind another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used to indicate a traffic hazard to other drivers.

Nebraska

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights are also required when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when within 200 feet of a vehicle from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are to be used when vehicle is parked on the freeway.

Nevada

Headlights

  • Headlights are required by law from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • The law also requires headlights to be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • Headlights must be on anytime the light is insufficient or when an official traffic control device directs it.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched to low beams when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be switched to low beams when following within 300 feet of a vehicle in front of you.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used to indicate a disabled vehicle.

New Hampshire

Headlights

  • Headlights must be on from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • Headlights are required when weather is adverse, such as fog, rain, sleet or snow.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched to low beams when within 150 feet of another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

New Jersey

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights are required when visibility is 500 feet or less.
  • Drivers must use their headlights when they turn on the windshield wipers.
  • Headlights are also necessary when driving through fog, smoke, mist or other weather conditions which reduce visibility.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off when approaching other vehicles or following behind them.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

New Mexico

Headlights

  • Drivers must turn on headlights 30 minutes after sunset and leave them on until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • Switch from high beams to low beams when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • Switch from high beams to low beams when you are within 200 feet of another vehicle from behind.

Hazard Lights

  • Use your hazard lights when your vehicle is disabled on the highway.

New York

Headlights

  • You must use your headlights at least 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet
  • Your headlights are required whenever you use your windshield wipers or in fog.

High Beams

  • High beams must be switched off when you are within 500 feet of oncoming traffic or within 200 feet when you are approaching from behind.
  • Dim your high beam lights for pedestrians who are approaching your vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

North Carolina

Headlights

  • The law requires headlights to be turned on from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights are also necessary when visibility is 400 feet or less.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are on.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

North Dakota

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • Drivers must use their headlights when it is raining or snowing, when it is sleeting or hailing or when the atmosphere is foggy.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be turned to low beams when following within 300 feet of another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Ohio

Headlights

  • Headlights are to be in use between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when the windshield wipers are turned on.
  • When visibility is less than 1000 feet, headlights are required.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used to alert other drivers of a traffic hazard.

Oklahoma

Headlights

  • Headlights must in use from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights, are also required when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • In adverse weather conditions, headlights must be in operation.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when the vehicle is within 1000 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 600 feet of another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are permitted to alert other drivers of a traffic hazard.
  • Hazard lights may also be used in emergency situations.

Oregon

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be used when visibility is less than 1000 feet ahead.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following a vehicle within 350 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Pennsylvania

Headlights

  • Headlights must be operated between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must be turned on when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
  • Headlights must be in use when windshield wipers are on in continuous or intermittent operation.

High Beams

  • High beams must be turned off when vehicle is within 500 feet of approaching traffic.
  • High beams must be turned off when vehicle is within 300 feet coming from behind another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • All vehicles must have hazard lights.
  • Hazard lights must be turned on when the vehicle is disabled or traveling at speeds less than 25 miles per hour outside of business or residential districts.

Rhode Island

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are on.

High Beams

  • High beams are not allowed in weather conditions such as rain, snow or fog or in any other conditions which reduce visibility.
  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching another vehicle within 500 feet.
  • High beams must be dimmed when coming up on another vehicle from behind within 200 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used to indicate a disabled vehicle along the road.

South Carolina

Headlights

  • Headlights are required 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be turned on when windshield wipers are in use.
  • Drivers must turn on the headlights when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams should be dimmed when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams should also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of a vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

South Dakota

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights are also required when visibility is less than 200 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when overtaking a vehicle from behind or in front.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Tennessee

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 200 feet.
  • Headlights are required when windshield wipers are in continual use.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when approaching a vehicle from behind at 500 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights are only allowed in an emergency.

Texas

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams may not be used when driving on lighted roads.
  • High beams are also not allowed when you are driving in fog, heavy rain, snow, sleet or dust.
  • High beams must be dimmed when you are approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when you are coming up behind a vehicle within 300 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Utah

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in operation half an hour after sunset until a half-hour before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 1000 feet, including when the weather is foggy, stormy or dusty.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when approaching within 300 feet behind another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Vermont

Headlights

  • Headlights must be turned on 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams should be dimmed when approaching other vehicles.
  • High beams should also be turned off when driving on roads with street lights.
  • High beams should not be in use during fog.
  • High beams should be turned off when following another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • No restrictions.

Virginia

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from sunset to sunrise.
  • Headlights must be in use during periods of fog, rain, snow or sleet.
  • Headlights must also be turned on when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when following within 200 feet of a vehicle from behind.
  • High beams should not be used when driving in cities and towns unless the street has no lighting.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may be used to indicate a traffic hazard to other drivers.
  • Drivers may also use hazard lights as part of a funeral procession.
  • Vehicles driving slower than 30 miles per hour may also use hazard lights.

Washington

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is poor.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching oncoming traffic within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when coming up on traffic from behind to within 300 feet.
  • High beams should not be used in fog, snow or heavy rain.

Hazard Lights

  • Use your hazard lights when your vehicle becomes disabled on the highway.

West Virginia

Headlights

  • Headlights must be in use between sunset and sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use during inclement weather, which includes rain, snow, sleet and fog.
  • Headlights are also required when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams should not be in use in cities or towns unless the street has no lighting.
  • High beams should be dimmed when oncoming traffic is within 500 feet.
  • High beams must also be dimmed when approaching within 200 feet from behind another vehicle.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights may only be used in emergency situations unless the vehicle is disabled on the side of the road.

Wisconsin

Headlights

  • Headlights are required from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be in use when visibility is less than 500 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams must be dimmed when approaching within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams must also be dimmed 500 feet of a vehicle when approaching from behind.
  • High beams should not be used in fog or when it is raining or snowing.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights should be in use when your car is disabled on the side of the highway.

Wyoming

Headlights

  • Headlights must be turned on from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Headlights must also be used when visibility is less than 1000 feet.

High Beams

  • High beams should be in use on rural highways.
  • High beams must be dimmed when within 500 feet of oncoming traffic.
  • High beams should also be dimmed when approaching from behind to within 300 feet.

Hazard Lights

  • Hazard lights should be in use when your vehicle is disabled on the highway.

Knowing the specific laws of your state with regard to the use of headlights, high beams, and hazard lights not only helps you to be more informed and avoid a ticket, it also serves as a reminder of how to effectively use your vehicle’s lights to safely navigate the road in dark or dangerous conditions. Be sure to find your state above!

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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