Are LED Headlights Legal in NC?

Nobody wants to drive in the dark without enough light coming from their headlights. LED lights are a fantastic solution to it. Hence, many new vehicles are coming out with stock LED headlights.

But are they legal in your state? Today, we shall focus on New Carolina vehicle laws and whether it allows LED headlights. As you may know, all states have varying rules about headlights. The best way to avoid getting tickets is to know these regulations.

Not to mention, the legality of most LED headlights is questionable due to federal laws. But then again, since LED headlights are the stock units on some vehicles, they are legal in a sense.

Are LED Headlights Legal in NC

Headlight Laws in New Carolina

New Carolina headlight laws are very clear and specifically mention what to do in different situations. Here are the headlight laws of NC-

General Rules

  • The headlights must stay on from sunset to sunrise.
  • The headlights must be on when the road has low visibility, limiting your vision to 400 feet or below ahead of your vehicle.
  • The headlights must be on during adverse weather conditions, making it difficult to discern people, animals, or vehicles on the road 500 feet ahead of the vehicle.
  • The headlights must stay on when using windshield wipers during rain, snow, smoke, fog, or sleet.
  • Motor vehicles must have two perfectly working headlights, and motorcycles must have one or two.

Coloring Rules

  • Headlights or any lights other than taillights on or inside the vehicle can be red or blue. Meanwhile, the rear lights cannot be white or clear.


  • A vehicle can have not more than two spotlights to the front, but their beams mustn’t reach more than 100 feet ahead. Meanwhile, there can only be two auxiliary lights at the front of the vehicle.
  • Headlights, spotlights, fog lights, or any automotive light with over 25 candlepower must be aimed properly so that their beams reach the road level within 50 feet ahead of the vehicle.

These are the rules set in the laws of NC. Note that we haven’t explained every minute detail of the rules. If you want to know it in full description, visit the official site of the NC Department of Transportation.

But as you can see, these laws say nothing about LED headlights (and laws from most states don’t either). Hence, we must combine them with federal laws to figure it out.

Federal Laws About Headlights

Federal laws have many rules regarding automobiles. The one that matches our topics is as below :-

One cannot modify their headlights. It means that if someone has a stock halogen headlight housing, they can’t replace it with aftermarket LED bulbs. As a result, any aftermarket LED headlight bulb without DOT compliance is illegal. And even if the bulbs have DOT marks, you still cannot use them on projector housing.

But any vehicle with stock LEDs for headlights is totally legal by the Federal Motor Vehicle Service Standards (FMVSS). They are released on the market after getting approved by the laws. So, use them as you want. You can also change your factory LED bulbs or housings with OEM ones from the market.

Even when buying an OEM LED headlight from the market, ensure that it fits your vehicle and doesn’t require any trimming. Some vehicle owners often go for different-sized bulbs than what their vehicle uses and opt for shaving the housing to install them. But it is not legal as it is a type of modification.

About Interior or Underglow LED Lights

Many of us love to have LED lights inside or under our vehicles. The state laws of North Carolina don’t specify anything regarding them. But you must keep the legal colors in mind and avoid red or blue ones. If you have color-changing lights for the interior or underglow, do not tell it to any cop.

The legality of LED Lights in North Carolina

After abridging the whole thing up, we can say that LED headlights are legal in NC under the following conditions

  • If the LED headlights are stock units.
  • If the LED headlight is an OEM product with the right fit for your vehicle that doesn’t require trimming and has DOT compliance.
  • If you are using LED headlights for off-roading.
  • If you have fully replaced your projector housings with OEM reflector housings and are using LED bulbs on them.

When you cannot use LED headlights legally in NC

  • If it is an aftermarket LED headlight without DOT compliance.
  • If you are using LED bulbs on projector housings instead of reflector ones.
  • If the LED headlight is not a perfect fit for your vehicle and needs modification during installation (Even if the headlight is OEM).

Final Note

We think that is all we have to share. Since LED headlights are way brighter than halogen ones, states can’t help but limit their usage. The best solution to all these is for the owners to keep their headlights aimed at the road. It can prevent dazzling others.

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