Interior LED Car lights aren’t illegal in general. However, it depends on which state you reside in. Flashing or strobing interior LEDs are not allowed in all of them due to federal laws.
Anyway, if you are someone who loves to dress up their vehicle with bright lights, you need to consider your state laws first.
Many states do not bat an eye when you use regular interior lights. Some don’t illegalize them, but the traffic police may still give you tickets. Meanwhile, some states, like Illinois, prohibit the usage of interior lamps other than the stock ones.
Let’s discuss which states illegalize interior LED lights and which don’t.
States Where Interior LED Lights are Illegal
I have added some states that indirectly illegalize interior LED lights. Some of them don’t illegalize them but still may give you a ticket if your interior LEDs are deemed harmful. If you don’t find your state here, you can check your state laws to stay aware.
- Illinois: In Illinois vehicle lighting laws, the state prohibits the usage of any lamp that they haven’t addressed in their codes. And interior LED lights fall under that. As a result, it is illegal to use any additional interior lights when driving on the road in Illinois. Moreover, it also outlaws oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights unless under certain conditions.
- Georgia: Georgia does not allow blue, red, purple, or green colors on any light other than some specified in the law. The state also prohibits flashing or rotating lights. So, you may only use interior LEDs if it matches all those criteria.
- Texas and Minnesota: Again, like the above two, Texas and Minnesota prohibit any sort of light with white, red, or blue colors or flashes, rotates, or oscillates. It is so except for any lamp specially approved by their respective state laws.
- Virginia: You cannot use any lamp with an intensity lower than 15 candlepower by Virginia codes. 15 candlepower equals 188.55 lumens. Unfortunately, many interior lights you find on the market have an intensity lower than this rating.
- Florida, California, and New York: These three states allow LED interior lights in cars without much issue. However, if they are flashing, strobing, or have too much glare, the traffic police may deem them harmful. And they are totally allowed to pull you over or give you a ticket if they notice you are using anything dangerous for you, any passenger, or others on the road.
- Ohio: In Ohio, the law agency thinks illuminated LED lights inside your vehicles are harmful and may cause hazards. And the state doesn’t allow anything that may trigger a safety hazard. So, its laws indirectly prohibit interior LED lights. Don’t be surprised if you get a ticket for using them.
Most states in the USA don’t allow the usage of red and blue lights and flashing or strobing ones, except for specific lamps. Hence, you should check the laws from yours to determine which interior lights to go for.
Moreover, make sure to install the lights in places that do not impede or affect your field of vision or reduce your peripheral angles. They also mustn’t glare at other drivers or people on the road and reflect on your rearview mirrors. Otherwise, you may get a ticket even after using legal interior LED lights.
Why Do Different States Prohibit Flashing or Rotating Interior Lights?
It is without saying that different states ban the usage of flashing interior lights for specific reasons. But some of the most common causes are as below-
Decreasing of Peripheral Vision
When bright colored light hits your eyes from any angle inside your vehicle, it can affect and lower your vision's peripheral angle. Hence, it gets harder to see a wide area or make out the shapes of different objects on the road.
If the LED interior lights are too bright and flashing, they can dazzle you constantly. Yes, you may be used to the flashes, but they still affect your vision. Moreover, too bright LED interior lights can also glare at other car drivers.
Reflections on the Rear View Mirror
The flashing light can reflect on the rearview mirror. On one end, it makes it harder for you to see cars on the back. On the other end, it may reflect to the eyes of others on the road, dazzling them in the process.
LED Lights Can Harm Your Eyes
LED lights aren't meant to be directed to your eyes. They are only for vehicle lighting to the front and aimed towards the road. So, when the flashing lights hit your eyes, they may cause irreversible damage.
It is backed by many experts and researchers. Blue lights don't harm us as much as many claims as our eyes can naturally block it. But children cannot do it as much as adults. So, flashing LEDs are more harmful to children.
Why Blue and Red LED Interior Lights are Prohibited?
Firstly, the blue light from LEDs can damage the eyes of children irreversibly. And secondly, blue light is reflective because of its short wavelength. So, when driving under precipitation, the light reflects back to your eyes from the water, ice, or mist, making it harder to see ahead.
Secondly, red lights draw your attention towards them. Among different colors, red attracts people's attention the most. As a result, it is dangerous to have red flashing LED lights inside your vehicle when driving.
Are LED Interior Lights Illegal in Canada?
Canada doesn't specifically outlaw the usage of LED interior lights. However, its laws require the drivers to have utmost attention and care when driving. If law enforcement officers feel like the LED interior lights are distracting you, they may pull you over.
Tips for Using Interior LED lights
If your state laws totally prohibit interior LED lights directly or indirectly, then ignore the following tips. Only check them out if your state doesn't prohibit them but still has many regulations-
- Avoid colors that the cops use on their cars. In fact, avoid any color that your state prohibits for vehicle lighting.
- Don't use RGB lights. Since you can change their light to red or blue at will, they are not legal. But if you do have them, avoid those illegal colors and don't tell any peace officer about their color-changing feature.
- Install the lights in places where it doesn't directly hit your eyes or glare at other drivers when you are in the driving seat.
- Don't keep the interior lights on while driving. Only use them for specific times, like when the vehicle is idling, and there is not much traffic on the road.
- Avoid flashing or strobing lights at all costs. They are entirely illegal in almost all countries and states.
If you want to use LED interior lights, you must follow your state laws. Avoid illegal colors, flashing, oscillating, rotating, or RGB lights. Even though they are okay for off-roading, I still don't recommend them for safety reasons. Only use the lights that do not violate any law. Note that the factory lights inside your cars are all legal, and you can change their bulbs to OEM ones.