Are Light Bars Legal?

Are Light Bars Legal?

Last Updated July 6, 2020 | Meghan Drummond
Contents

Light bars are popular off-roading modifications. These bars are often mounted to the grille and/or the top or bottom of a windshield. LED light bars provide bright, direct light. For those who frequently off-road, the extra visibility improves safety.

While light bars are encouraged while driving off-road, it’s dangerous to use them on public roads. This has led states to make light bar use illegal. To avoid getting a ticket, you’ll need to know your state laws regarding off-road lighting.

If you frequently cross state lines in search of off-roading adventures, you may also want to know the laws in other states.

Legal Phrasing

We’ve tried our best to boil each state’s laws down to a plain English version. There are a few general terms that are helpful to know.

Auxiliary Lighting

Many states’ laws don’t specifically cover LED off-roading lights. Most of the time, they’ll classify light bars as “auxiliary lights.” Auxiliary lights fall into three categories: fog lights, driving lights, and off-road lights. These lights can improve visibility, but aren’t necessary the way headlights are.

So, in states where only two auxiliary lights are allowed, a pair of fog lights may be all you can use while on the road.

A light bar mounted to the bottom of a windshield

Mounting

Most states also have regulations regarding mounting location. This is mostly to differentiate between fog lights and off-roading lights.

These height restrictions reduce the mounting area so that anything above the grille won’t make the cut. Lifted vehicles will be limited even further since measurements are taken from the surface of the road.

Some street legal light bars mount at or below the headlight heights. For people who frequently drive on public roads that are rural, these can improve safety without breaking laws.

Candlepower

Most people measure light output in lumens. This means that off-road lights advertise the lumen output of their lights. Unfortunately, most states define their legal limits in terms of candlepower.

Candlepower is as outdated a phrase as you’d imagine. To convert candlepower to lumens, multiply by 12.57.

Light Color

One of the few consistencies across state lines are restrictions on color. Forward facing lights can’t be blue, red, or other colors associated with legal agencies. They also can’t flash or spin. Many states specify that lights must be clear and white.

In the United States, amber is used for turn lights, red for taillights or warning lights, and white for front-facing lights.

DOT Compliance

Some states defer to the Federal Department of Transportation lighting guidelines rather than specifying their own. DOT compliant lights will have a DOT logo on them. This effectively rules out off-roading lights, which are not usually evaluated by the DOT.

Light Bar Laws by State

Please note: CJ Pony Parts is not a recognized legal authority. We cannot get you out of a ticket. Also, state laws are updated frequently. While we will be updating this list and keeping it as accurate as possible, it’s advised you double-check your state guidelines before making serious modifications.

Light Bar Laws by State
StateLawLink for More Information
Alabama Off-roading lights limited to two glare-free cowl or fender lamps. Alabama Legal Information
Alaska The front of a vehicle is limited to four lights. No part of a high intensity light can strike the road. Alaska Legal Information
Arizona Any light greater than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens) must be directed so that no part of the beam strikes the road 75 feet from the vehicle. Arizona Legal Information
Arkansas No auxiliary driving lights may be used on pubic roads. Arkansas Legal Information
California When on public roadways, off-road lights must be off and covered with an opaque cover. California Legal Information
Colorado Auxiliary lights are limited to two, and the beams must be directed to the left side less than 100 feet away from the vehicle. Colorado Legal Information
Connecticut No more than four lights on the front of a vehicle. They cannot exceed 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens). Connecticut Legal Information
Delaware Allows two spotlights and two headlights. Light bars must be off while on the road. Delaware Legal Information
D.C. All lights greater than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens) must be directed so no part of the beam hits 75 feet away from the vehicle. D.C. Legal Information
Florida Only four lights are allowed in front of a vehicle, and must adhere to existing light laws. Florida Legal Information
Georgia Only one spotlight, not to be aimed at any approaching vehicle. One "auxiliary driving light" is allowed but must be mounted between 16 and 42 inches from the ground. Georgia Legal Information
Hawaii Lights are not allowed to exceed 2,400 candlepower (30,168 lumens). Light bars must be turned off on roads. Hawaii Legal Information
Idaho If any of the front lights have a light with greater than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens), then only four lights are allowed. Idaho Legal Information
Illinois No more than four lights on the front of a vehicle may be lit. All lights must be dimmable and aimed away from other drivers' eyes. Illinois Legal Information
Indiana One auxiliary driving lamp is allowed, but must be mounted between 24 and 42 inches from the road's surface. Indiana Legal Information
Iowa Any bright light must be directed away from the eyes of other drivers. Only three auxiliary driving lamps are allowed on a vehicle. Iowa Legal Information
Kansas All lights must be directed so that no part of the high intensity beam strikes the roadway more than 75 feet out from the vehicle. Kansas Legal Information
Kentucky Illegal to drive with LED light bars turned on. Kentucky Legal Information
Louisiana Illegal to drive with LED light bars turned on. Louisiana Legal Information
Maine No auxiliary light can be brighter than the standard lighting equipment. Maine Legal Information
Maryland No more than two auxiliary lamps mounted between 16 and 42 inches above ground level. Maryland Legal Information
Massachusetts Illegal to drive with LED light bars turned on. Strict regulations on all aftermarket lighting. Massachusetts Legal Information
Michigan No more than four forward facing lights. Michigan Legal Information
Minnesota May have up to two auxiliary driving lamps between 16 and 42 inches above a level surface. Minnesota Legal Information
Mississippi Two auxiliary driving lamps allowed, but must be mounted between 12 and 42 inches above a level surface. Mississippi Legal Information
Missouri Up to three auxiliary driving lamps mounted between 12 and 42 inches above a level surface. Missouri Legal Information
Montana Light bars may not be used on public roadways. Montana Legal Information
Nevada Two auxiliary lamps mounted between 16 and 42 inches above a level surface. Nevada Legal Information
New Hampshire Up to three auxiliary driving lamps mounted between 12 and 42 inches high. New Hampshire Legal Information
New Jersey May use a light bar as long as it is low profile and sits lower than the headlights. New Jersey Legal Information(PDF Download)
New Mexico One auxiliary driving lamp mounted between 16 and 42 inches above the ground. Must be able to be turned off at least 500 feet from approaching vehicles. New Mexico Legal Information
New York While not technically illegal, all auxiliary lights cannot exceed 32 candlepower (402 lumens). There are no light bars made with less than 32 candlepower. New York Legal Information
North Carolina Light bars must be off while driving on public roads. North Carolina Legal Information
North Dakota No part of the light can hit the ground 75 feet from the vehicle. North Dakota Legal Information
Ohio No more than five front-facing lights. No high intensity beam may strike the roadway 75 feet from the vehicle. Ohio Legal Information
Oklahoma Off-road lights may not be used on roadways. Oklahoma Legal Information
Oregon Off-road lights may only be used off-roads. Oregon Legal Information
Pennsylvania Off-road lights must be off and covered while on public roads. Pennsylvania Legal Information
Rhode Island All lights with more than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens) must be directed so they don't hit the roadway more than 75 feet in front of the vehicle. Rhode Island Legal Information
South Carolina All lights with more than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens) must be directed so they don't hit the roadway more than 75 feet in front of the vehicle. South Carolina Legal Information
South Dakota All lights with more than 25 candlepower (314.25 lumens) must be directed so that no part of the beam hits the level surface 50 feet in front of a vehicle. South Dakota Legal Information
Tennessee No more than two auxiliary lights allowed, and no portion of the beam may be directed where it can strike oncoming drivers. Tennessee Legal Information
Texas Two auxiliary driving lamps are permitted, but must be mounted between 16 and 42 inches above a level surface. Texas Legal Information
Utah Any light with greater than 300 candlepower (3,771 lumens) must be directed so that no portion of the beam strikes the roadway. Utah Legal Information
Vermont Aftermarket lights must be DOT approved. Vermont Legal Information
Virginia Any lights mounted higher than factory headlights must be covered. May have 2 uncovered lights in addition to headlights. Uncovered lights must be set to turn off if brights are turned on. Virginia Legal Information
Washington Two auxiliary lights are allowed, but must be mounted between 16 and 42 inches off the ground. Washington Legal Information
West Virginia All lamps mounted higher than 42 inches off the ground must be covered. West Virginia Legal Information
Wisconsin No more than 4 forward facing lights. Wisconsin Legal Information
Wyoming Light bars are not legal on public roadways Wyoming Legal Information

Can I Be Pulled Over Because of a Light Bar?

An led light bar causes a bright spot of glare

If you’re like most people, a lot of your questions boil down to “can I be pulled over?” The answer is “yes.”

Most states have a general statute that says a police officer can pull over a driver for doing anything unsafe. This is meant to cover every strange and unpredictable scenario that could arise.

Most states don’t have a law regarding driving with a bear in your car. But if you were to try to drive with a bear in your car, you could be pulled over. Though no one could have predicted someone would try this, there’s no doubt that it’s unsafe. The “unsafe” law allows a law enforcement officer to respond to that scenario.

Though you could theoretically argue your case in court, there aren’t many success stories. That’s mostly because driving with an LED light bar turned on IS unsafe. Blinding your fellow drivers is an unsafe maneuver, and appealing to a judge or jury probably won’t end with either coming down in your favor.

The Solution? Use a Light Bar Cover

A light bar with bright yellow KC covers

Using a light bar cover is the easiest way to stay on the right side of the law no matter where your travels take you. Even if you accidentally turn your light bar on, a cover makes sure you don’t compromise safety.

In short, a light bar cover is great insurance against future tickets. Not only that, but light bar covers offer fun customization options. Check out some light bar covers here.

Are Light Bars Legal?

Wondering if your LED light bar is safe to drive around with in your state? Here’s what you should know about the legal regulations surrounding light bars. Make sure you avoid a ticket by knowing your state’s laws.