Is It Illegal to Drive With Interior Lights On?

When I was a kid, my dad would get mad at me for turning on the car's dome light. I thought he was concerned about the battery. But was he on to something?

Having interior lights on when driving your car is legal in almost all states. But I wouldn't recommend you to always keep your dome light on when driving. It can be hazardous, and you may even get pulled over!

So, why can you get in trouble even if dome lights are legal? And what about LED interior lights?

I will answer all the questions in this article. I also mentioned the name of the states where having interior lights on while driving can get you pulled over.

Can you get pulled over for having the interior lights on?

Even though having a dome light on while driving isn't illegal, you can still get pulled over and even be eligible for a ticket!

Having interior lights on, in general, isn't illegal. However, you appear distracted if you look for something in your car while driving. Most drivers use dome lights to find something inside their vehicles. That's why a surveilling cop can pull you over, thinking you are distracted.

Distracted driving laws aren't the same in all states. But it's recommended not to use your interior lights to look for something while driving.

If you are not distracted and just have the interior lights on for any other reason, cops may still pull you over. This is done to advise drivers to turn off their interior lights as it hampers vision.

States where you shouldn't drive with interior lights on

Even though driving with interior lights on is legal in most states of the USA, there are some exceptions. Note that it's not really illegal to have interior lights in these states. But you can still get into trouble for related reasons.


In Ohio, driving with interior dome lights or LED lights is considered a driving hazard. Therefore, even though you are not likely to get pulled over for this reason alone, there are circumstances where cops can give you a ticket.


Texas laws prohibit using blue, red, and white flashing lights. Therefore, you can't have altering LED lights of these colors as interior lights.


Interior lights have to be 15 or less candlepower to be legal in Virginia. Bright dome light can get you eligible for a ticket.


Similar to Texas, you cannot have rotating or flashing blue and red interior lights in Illinois.

A quick rule of thumb is that you should not have red or blue interior lights. These colors are only for police vehicles. Also, make sure the interior lights aren't flashing or oscillating while driving.

Is It Illegal to Drive With Interior Lights On

Why driving with the dome light on is a bad idea

You can easily notice that you can't see outside very well when you turn the dome light on at night. Therefore, having interior lights on while driving can lead to accidents.

The interior lights reflect off of the windshield. As a result, it becomes harder to see outside the car. Bright interior lights can make it hard to drive.

When it's raining, interior lights can be even worse for driving!

Even though having the interior lights on isn't illegal when driving, cops assume that you are looking for something when you have the dome light on. This often leads to a charge of distracted driving.

If you must turn on the interior lights of your car, pull over to the side first.

What about LEDs inside a car?

LEDs inside a car look futuristic, and I also love the feel of it. But can you have them on while driving?

To not get into trouble with interior LEDs, follow these rules:

  • Do not use the colors of police vehicles (red, blue). This way, your car will not be misunderstood as a police vehicle.
  • Make sure the LED lights are not flashing, oscillating, or blinking. Such lights can be distracting.
  • Don't use interior lights that are too bright. It can hamper your vision as well as flash the drivers behind you.
  • Only turn on the LEDs on a freeway that's not busy.

Make sure to contact your insurance provider and check the local laws before installing any LEDs for the interior.

Final Note

Even though driving with interior lights on isn't illegal, you should avoid doing it. Such practices can be hazardous on the road. Moreover, you can also get a ticket because cops can assume you were distracted.

Have you ever got pulled over for having dome lights on? Please share the story with us here.

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