Know the Road with the CHP: Are the bright HID lights on new cars legal?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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An ABC30 viewer wanted to know: are the new HID headlights on cars legal?

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An ABC30 viewer wanted to know: are the bright HID lights on new vehicles legal? They are much brighter than typical headlights and make it hard to see.

"High-intensity headlights, otherwise known as HID headlights, made their debut several years ago on some luxury vehicles," said Sgt. Brian Pennings with the California Highway Patrol.

"The purpose of these high intensity lights to simulate daytime, and it's a different tone of light, but they're far from perfect, sometimes they can be blinding to oncoming vehicles," he said. "The California Vehicle Code specifically requires headlights to be clear and exhibit white light or amber, in the case of turn signals."

"Any other color of headlight is illegal in California. Sometimes people will modify their vehicles with high-intensity lights, oftentimes that are blue in color and illegal. If your vehicle is modified with these aftermarket HID headlights, there's a strong possibility that they are illegal," Pennings explained, saying that the new HID lights are legal as long as they are not aftermarket add-ons and are below a certain brightness level. More rules apply to lifted or lowered vehicles.

"If you have a vehicle that's been modified with aftermarket suspension, remember that that has changed the original manufacturer's specifications for the angle of your headlights," Pennings added.

"For instance, when you come up to a stop sign, or an intersection or a stoplight, your vehicle's headlights could be shining right into the back window of that vehicle in front of you. The Vehicle Code requires these lights to be no lower than 22 inches, and no higher than 54 inches from the ground."

"If you find yourself in a situation where there's an oncoming vehicle with bright lights and it's hard to see, never look into the lights, look away from the lights so that you can still see along the road."

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