Q: Can I Legally Use Colored Headlights?

asked by on November 18, 2015

Can I legally use colored headlights?

The simple answer is: no, headlights must be white. Vehicle lighting is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and FMVSS 108 deals with all vehicle lighting.

The rest becomes less simple! Individual states have jurisdiction, and you can check with your own state’s DMV, but they mostly just adopt the federal standards.

Just saying a “white light” is a rather broad term in our current state of technology. White light has a spectrum and can include LED lights, HID/xenon lighting, or halogen lamps, even though they look like they vary from bluish to yellowish. High-end luxury and sports cars are equipped with rather amazing lights and this technology is moving down to the more moderately priced models as well.

This “look” has created demand in the aftermarket, though most lighting kits for converting standard halogen lamps to HID are not legal. To make it even more unclear, lamps can be marked “DOT” and still not be legal. According to industry experts at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA), millions of dollars worth of illegal, aftermarket automotive lighting systems have been confiscated coming into the U.S.

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