It is unfortunately common now to get suddenly blinded for a second by a too-bright headlight from another vehicle when driving down the road. If such happens to us, we often wonder, are those bulbs legal? And what is the legal brightness limit for car headlights anyway?
As a vehicle owner, you need to learn about it. But unfortunately, it is pretty common for many people to go for illegal lighting for their vehicles even without properly knowing it. In this article, let’s talk about how much brightness is legal and when it is considered illegal.
Which Lights Are Legal for Vehicles?
As unfortunate as it may sound, LED bulbs are illegal on vehicles in the USA in most cases. Don’t get us wrong; you can drive with your factory LEDs all you want. However, according to the national rule in the USA, it is not legal to modify your headlights. That includes trimming your headlights, adding or removing parts, or even installing bulbs with a different type than the factory ones.
If you look at it, that almost makes the aftermarket LEDs illegal. You cannot legally change your factory halogen to LEDs. Meanwhile, factory LED headlights are irreplaceable.
However, there is a way. While the law is there, it isn’t executed that seriously. The only issue that aftermarket LED headlight users face is passing the state inspection. However, since it is pretty easy to change the headlight bulbs, many simply replace the LED with a pair of halogen bulbs during the inspection and install the LEDs back afterward.
What Is the Brightest LED Headlight Bulb That Is Legal?
Many people ask this question. However, the problem is that literally any aftermarket LED headlight is illegal, be it even dimmer than a halogen headlight. And when it comes to factory LEDs from those modern vehicles, they are inspected and approved by the law. So, they don’t have to worry about the brightness since they are perfectly focused on the road and not on the oncoming people.
Because of this, no rule says anything about the legal limit of LED headlights. But, of course, if we are talking about aftermarket ones, none of them are legal anyway.
The issue here is that LED lights usually dazzle other drivers. The solution is to align your bulb to a perfect angle so that it only has a downward aim. Note that this is only to keep others on the road safe, not to legalize the LED bulbs in your headlight.
There are laws regarding headlight colors, though. You can only go for yellow or white for headlights. So, no blue or other colors are allowed.
What Is the Brightest Halogen Headlight Bulb That Is Legal?
The federal law doesn’t have any set rule about the luminous flux of headlights, including halogen bulbs. It must let you see the road clearly and see the distance of 50-100 meters ahead of your vehicle. But it cannot dazzle other people on the road.
But different states may have their own rules regarding this. But in most cases, it doesn’t say anything about the lumen limit. You only have to dim your high beam within a certain distance (500 feet usually) of any approaching traffic. If people follow these laws and focus their headlights properly downward, there shouldn’t really be any problem on the road. But the drivers that blind you on the road with their headlights don’t bother to do so.
Having LED headlights can give you a high brightness, making the road well-visible. But they are road illegal if you have bought them from the market. Only factory LEDs are allowed. There is no legal lumen limit for headlights. As of now, the cops don’t have gadgets that can measure the luminous flux of your headlights. So, even if there were a legal lumen limit, it wouldn’t be possible to execute it.