Are LED Headlights Legal in NY?

Headlight laws are one essential part of the vehicle regulations that keep both you and others on the road safe. But the key point here is to know about them and follow them properly. NY does this well by regulating and controlling when and how you can keep your headlights on.

Since bright headlights are necessary for nighttime driving, many prefer LED headlights. But whether it is legal in their own country is a matter many don’t know. In this article, we shall focus on the legality of LED headlights in New York. So, go through this article before you make that halogen to LED conversion.

Are LED Headlights Legal in NY

Headlight Laws in New York

The headlight laws in NY have some slight differences from other states. Below, we are mentioning them-

  • You must keep your headlights on from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • The headlights must stay on roads with low visibility that limits you from seeing more than 1000 feet ahead of your vehicle.
  • Your headlights must stay on during precipitation, whether you can see ahead clearly or not.
  • You mustn’t use high beams when another vehicle is approaching and within a 500 feet distance.
  • You mustn’t use high beams when following another vehicle within a 200 feet distance.
  • If riding a bike, ensure its headlight is always on, both night and day.

NY has laws about bicycle headlights too. For example, you must keep your bicycle headlights on from half an hour after sunset to half an hour after sunrise. In addition, the bicycle headlight must be yellow and visible from 500 feet ahead, and the taillight must be red and visible from 300 feet back.

But there is one more rule that virtually makes LED headlights illegal in New York. According to the Division of Motor Vehicles, the headlight intensity is limited to 32 candlepower. It is only 402.24 lumens, making it only 804.48 lumens from both headlights together. Yes, it is not enough for nighttime driving, yet it is a rule. Talk about LED headlights; even many halogen headlights have brighter intensity than 402.24 lumens.

Although, the cops admit that they have no means as of now to measure the candlepower of headlights. But if they see a too bright headlight (mostly LED), they may ticket the driver. Moreover, they also pull vehicles over when they don’t have aimed beam and blind people on the road.

Federal Laws

Federal law code 108 prohibits any headlight modifications. That includes installing LED or HID on halogen housing or vice versa. It also doesn’t allow any trimming. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently allowed Adaptive Headlights in the USA. Hence, you should be able to use them. However, the low candlepower limit of NY law still makes it a huge issue.

Yes, you may use LED headlights if it comes as stock units. But it may still break the law by being over the intensity limit from NY law. So yes, as people say, this New York law keeps people in the dark.

Situations Where You Can Use LED Headlights Legally in NY

You can use LED headlights legally in NY if it meets all the following conditions-

  • If your LED headlights are stock units or have OEM reflector housings with LED bulbs.
  • If each LED headlight has a lumen rating of 402.24 together or below.

Other than these, you can also use LED headlights without any problem when off-roading. We strongly advise using bright bulbs for off-roading as it is too risky otherwise.

Final Note

You may often see many on different forums calling every OEM LED headlight legal in NY. But many of them either are unclear of the NY law or just take a guess based on their own state law. It is true that you are highly unlikely to get pulled over for using a factory LED headlight system. So, you don’t have to worry too much about the intensity limit. Just make sure that the headlights are focused downward to avoid dazzling others. If you are into off-roading, there are no such restrictions. You can also install a top-notch light bar for your jeep or car. But keep them covered on the road.

Leave a Comment