Are HID Headlights Legal in NY?

If you are using the stock headlights, halogen, HID, or LED, you won’t face any issue with the law in any state, including New York. However, when it comes to replacing the stock headlights with new ones, things get a bit difficult in this state.

In this article, I shall explain why almost all HID and LED headlights on the streets of NY are technically illegal by state law. It is caused by an old law that is yet to be changed.

HID lamps are way more efficient and can provide better visibility at night. Some of us want to go for the brightest options on the market. But in NY, the intensity of headlights is too limited.

Are HID Headlights Legal in NY

What About New York Laws for HID Headlights?

You won’t find anything specific to HID lights when you go through the vehicle lighting laws of New York. Yet, like other states, it restricted the way you can use headlights on your vehicle. Let’s check some of them out below-

  • One must keep their headlights on when their visibility gets limited to 1,000 feet or below because of low light on the road.
  • One must keep their headlights on during precipitation.
  • The headlights must be on when driving from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • For motorcycle users, the law is to keep the headlights on all the time.
  • Finally, the bad news is that all headlight intensity in New York is limited to 32 candlepower. It is roughly 402 lumens. But the good news is that this law isn’t enforced. You may even encounter really bright headlights when driving in the dark alleys of New York.

But as you can see, the New York headlight laws need some serious reworking. The intensity limit law was given in 2006, and no change afterward. Do you see the problem? Well, according to NY laws, you must turn on your headlights when the visibility is reduced to 1,000 feet or less.

But 402 lumen is far less than enough to reveal 1,000 feet ahead clearly. Meanwhile, the law also requires bikers to keep their headlights on at all times, day or night, which is a massive waste of energy and cost.

What About Federal Laws?

While the state law agencies may not enforce the headlight intensity rule in NY, the federal agencies enforce theirs. So, you need to keep them in mind when going for an HID replacement of the market.

According to FMVSS 108, you aren’t allowed to replace stock halogen or LED with HID kits. Only if your vehicle came with HID lights can you change it to another HID. Moreover, the lights have to be DOT-approved and fit your car. It is known as the no headlight modification law.

There is a way to get around it. You need to find an OEM DOT-approved projector housing designed for your vehicle model for it. You may install it on the vehicle and then install an HID kit into this housing. But unless you drive that much at night, this is totally not worth the effort and cost.

Final Note

Okay, so, after assessing all that, we can conclude that HID headlights are legal in NY. But they must either be factory units or DOT-approved products with candela lower than 402 lumens. However, this is one of the very few times I should tell you to ignore this part of the law for your own safety.

402 lumens are too low for dark roads. It is true that New York has lots of lighted highways. But that is not present literally everywhere. And most people don’t know or don’t even care about this rule. But you should pay attention to the other regulations, including the light’s color.

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