Car with colored headlights

Colored or tinted headlights are one way to make your car truly stand out, as long as the color and transparency are chosen tastefully.

However, there are laws in place pertaining to automotive lighting that you have to follow, especially if your car is regularly driven on public roads.

In this guide, we’ll tell you whether it is legal to have colored headlights on your car, and we’ll provide a state-by-state rundown of the laws around this upgrade.

Restricted Headlight Colors

BMW with blue tinted headlights

The reason behind lighting restrictions is to ensure that your car doesn’t resemble an emergency vehicle.

Red and blue lights are typically associated with and used by emergency vehicles, so using these colors on your headlights is definitely illegal. And that’s the same reason why tail light tints aren’t legal.

Regardless of which state you live in, you cannot have red or blue headlights. More importantly, you cannot display flashing lights or interior lights that are red or blue.

Oil slick colored headlights

Other than the tail lights, you are not permitted to use red light fixtures anywhere in your car.

The laws apply to fog lights as well. For example, iced blue, purple, green, red, or any color other than white, warm white, and amber aren’t permitted.

As a general rule of thumb, avoid using static and flashing red or blue lights.

State-By-State Headlight Laws

The safest thing you can do is avoid coloring or tinting your headlights because it is illegal.

And if you wish to install aftermarket lights, it is recommended that you only use products that are DOT-approved.

However, the difference between headlight tint and color is worth noting:

  • Tint: Colored film applied to your headlight lens
  • Color: Color of the light emitted by your headlights

Tinting your headlights won’t necessarily change the color of the emitted light. This depends on how dark your tint is, and how much it affects the VLT rating (visible light transmission).

Even though colored headlights are completely illegal, you can get away with lightly tinted headlights in some states.

The list below outlines the minimum required visibility and VLT rating for each state along with other relevant notes where applicable.

Alaska

VLT: 70%

Arizona

Visibility Range: 500 ft

Arkansas

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights and dark tints that reduce illumination are prohibited.

California

VLT: 70%

Colorado

VLT: 27%

Connecticut

Visibility: 500 ft

Delaware

VLT: 70%

District of Columbia

VLT: 70%

Florida

VLT: 28%
Other Notes: Lightly frosted white or blue lights are permitted as long as the emitted light is white.

Georgia

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Hawaii

Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Idaho

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Illinois

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Indiana

Visibility: 500 ft

Kansas

Visibility: 500 ft

Kentucky

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: All aftermarket headlights must meet DOT requirements.

Maine

Visibility: 500 ft

Maryland

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Headlight tint is not permitted.

Massachusetts

Visibility: 500 ft

Michigan

VLT: 70%

Minnesota

Other Notes: Colors other than white are prohibited except in special events such as parades.

Mississippi

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Missouri

Visibility: 500 ft

Montana

Visibility: 500 ft

Nebraska

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Nevada

Visibility: 500 ft

New Hampshire

VLT: 70%

New Jersey

VLT: 70%
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

New Mexico

Visibility: 500 ft

New York

VLT: 70%

North Carolina

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Oklahoma

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Oregon

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Pennsylvania

Other Notes: Off-road light fixtures can be installed on the roof or roll-bar but they must have an opaque covering on public roads.

Rhode Island

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

South Carolina

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

South Dakota

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Tennessee

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Texas

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Colored bulbs, smoked tints, and aftermarket LED halo lights are illegal.

Utah

Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Vermont

VLT: 70%

Virginia

Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Washington

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

West Virginia

Visibility: 500 ft

Wisconsin

Visibility: 500 ft
Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

Wyoming

Other Notes: Static and flashing red or blue lights are prohibited.

A Note on HID Headlights

Yellow tinted headlights

The heavy emphasis on the restriction of blue headlights becomes confusing when you consider HID or high-intensity-discharge headlights that have a blueish tint.

As long as the HID headlights are OEM, they’ll be considered legal because the automaker takes that under consideration.

However, HID conversion kits that aren’t OEM-approved are illegal. If your car did not come stock with HID headlights, then you cannot legally install non-HID headlights.

Blacked out headlights on a yellow Corvette

For an HID conversion kit to be legal, the new bulb needs to match the OEM bulb in terms of features such as light intensity and ballast design.

Another concern is that aftermarket HID conversion kits typically exceed the permitted brightness level and safety limits, which will effectively make your car more of a hazard.

The bottom line is that colored headlights of any kind are illegal. The only colors you can use are white, warm white, and amber.

One of the reasons behind that is to enhance the white and yellow lines on the road, and ensure that reflective traffic signs are illuminated when you’re passing them.

What are your thoughts on colored headlights? Are they rice or nice? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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