Is It Illegal to Drive with One Headlight?

Is It Illegal to Drive with One Headlight

When you are on the road with a vehicle, the condition of it heavily determines your safety. The headlights are a crucial part of your vehicle that it is impossible to operate a car in some scenarios without them.

Now, a common question many people have is whether it is illegal to drive with a single headlight or not. Clearly put, yes, it is illegal. Almost every nation will have laws and regulations that forbid you from driving with less than two headlights. We will talk about the topic in-depth in this article and give you any necessary knowledge you might need.

Risks of Driving with One Headlight

Many of us do think that it is totally possible and safe to drive with a single headlight even in the dark. We don’t deny anyone’s capability, but it is far from being safe. Driving with a damaged or faulty headlight has several risks, and we have put them below.

  • When you are driving with a faulty headlight during the night, there are chances that the working one can also go out. It can also become dim or start to flicker. You are at huge risk in all those scenarios because you will be in motion when they happen.
  • If your working headlight is not that bright or has a lower color temperature, it will get hard to notice smaller objects on the side of the faulty headlight. If you are driving on a narrow road or a mountain road, this is extremely risky.
  • After all, since the act is illegal, it can literally get you pulled over. The officers can give you a penalty notice fine. The amount depends on the location. Keep in mind that the fine can rise to even ten times if the crime is challenged in court.

What Else Can Happen If Your Vehicle Has One Headlight Only

Legality issues aren’t the only problems that you can have for having a faulty headlight. There are some other drawbacks too. For example, if your state runs a vehicle inspection, your vehicle may fail it.

That is obviously not an ideal scenario. In case you didn’t know, if your vehicle fails a state inspection, you will have only a month from the last date of the month that is mentioned on the inspection sticker to repair or install any part needed. If you fail to do it in time, your vehicle will not be legal anymore.

What Do the Headlight Laws Say?

According to the headlight laws in most states of the USA, you have to keep your headlights turned on starting from the sunset to the sunrise. However, this law is a bit stricter in some states. In those places, the headlight should be on 30 minutes earlier than the sunset till 30 minutes after the sunrise.

Additionally, you should also keep your headlights on in cases where you can’t see at most 500 feet ahead of you for different reasons. This rule is for both the day and nighttime. And most states worldwide will require you to have both headlights working during a drive.

There are other rules regarding your headlight too. It is best you check out the street laws in your state.

If You Get Pulled Over for Having One Headlight Only

You may wonder what will happen if a cop stops your vehicle for having a defective headlight. Well, they will provide you with information about fixing the problem but may still charge you with a fine. Moreover, you may need to pay extra for the offense to the court.

Apparently, if you keep driving with a faulty headlight and you know it but aren’t fixing it within time, it will be considered reckless driving. In that case, authorities will warn you about the problem and ask you to fix it. However, you may have to come to court for this, which can cost you a lot more.

So, How to Avoid All These

It is not hard to avoid such problems in the first place. All you have to do is to give your vehicle a thorough check before going out with it. That obviously includes the headlights too. If you notice anything wrong with your headlight, or the vehicle overall, don’t drive in it. Contact any mechanic or service provider to check the car and fix the headlights.

But that doesn’t end your duties. As a vehicle owner, you should be aware of the state traffic rules and act accordingly. Keep in mind that state laws keep changing, and it is ideal to look them up occasionally.

You can look the laws up online or ask any lawyer for advice. You may be actually breaking any regulation without knowing about it. And overall, never try to be overconfident and drive with a single headlight as it is a serious matter.

What Can Be The Reasons Behind a Faulty Headlight?

There can be more than one reason behind why your headlight is not working or has gotten dimmer. Here are some.

  • Burned Out Bulb- One of your headlights may have burned out because of excessive voltage or a mistake in the installation. It can happen in other ways too. If you experience it, consider changing it with a new headlight bulb.
  • Wiring Problem- There are chances that you have probably inserted one or more wires into the wrong slot, and thus, the headlight is not working. The wire can also get exposed or broken. Contact a mechanic in this case.
  • Blown Out Fuse- The fuse of a headlight may have blown out. Whether it can be because your headlight bulb does not suit the wattage that the vehicle provides, or there can be any wiring issue. Contact your mechanic or get a new headlight to solve this.
  • A Dim Headlight- If both the headlights are working, but one is dim, while the other is bright, it is still dangerous. It can happen because of fogginess or oxidization. You can use baking soda, toothbrush, vinegar, or a compound polishing kit to restore the brightness.

Read More: Is It Illegal to Drive with a Broken Headlight?

Final Note

No matter how you look at it, driving with only one headlight is risky, and thus, it is understandably illegal. For the safety of yours, your passengers, other vehicle drivers, and the passerby, you should definitely look into the matter and fix it as soon as possible. Do not even consider going out with that vehicle before the troubleshooting is over.

As you can see above, the risk is not only for your safety but can also cost you a large sum. Hopefully, this article helped you by providing the necessary information.

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