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HID Lights? Legal Or Pull Me Over Now?


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  • HID Lights? Legal Or Pull Me Over Now?

    Well a friend of mine gave me a set of HID head lamp kits for my car. The light kit is the kind that replaces the stock bulbs with a Xenon arch lamp, ballast and ignitor. The color is 5000k white/blue. The kit was a Xmas present and I do not want to offend my friend by never trying them, but at the same time I do not want to blind others on the road or get a FAT TICKET. What are the penalties if it is not legal? Heck, what is the legality of these light kits? I live in CA if that has any bearing.
    Everyone makes mistakes, only some of us
    learn from mistakes

  • #2
    Read the box. If Street legal they will say DOT approved if not likely they will read for show or off road use only. Many new cars have HID from factory but some older cars the wiring won't support the extra juice needed to burn them and you could fry some wiring and your car. Many GM trucks and cars have suffered this fate.


    • #3
      Well the box they came in is just a plain white box nothing on it at all.
      The instal directions were not in english and I do not know how to read Chinese characters.
      I installed the lights after work today. Very plug and play kind of instal. WOW are they bright. With only one installed I tested the amp draw of the lights, Stock bulb is 4.1 amps and the HID lights (ballast and all) 2.5 amps. So I am certain the wiring can handle the smaller amp load in it. But are they legal?

      Note: The lights are not normal halogen bulbs they are Xenon arch lamps, no filament in the bulb.
      Last edited by Joe Citizen; 01-11-2006, 08:18 PM.
      Everyone makes mistakes, only some of us
      learn from mistakes


      • #4
        First of all the statement DOT APPROVED is misleading. NHTSA, an arm of the U.S. DOT, does not approve or disapprove MV equipment. It does set Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for all MV equipment. FMVSS 108 covers lights. Manufacturers SELF-CERTIFY that their product meets the standard.

        Several years ago when the aftermarket tail light/lens first became popular, there were many versions and most of them did not comply with FMVSS 108 even though the packaging said legal in 50 states or DOT approved. The products also have DOT numbers imprinted on them. These letters/numbers indicate certain parts of the product are compliant such as rear lens, rear color, rear reflector, side reflector, side lens, side color etc. There were DOT numbers on many of these aftermarket lenses but usually all of the numbers were not present. This indicates that parts of the lens were not compliant. Also see is a NON-government site with lots of info about lights-mostly taillights.

        HID headlights-If it has a transformer (ballast) it is an HID light. A true HID light casts a white light (looks like light blue tint). There are cheap imitations which are a plain bulb with a blue coating and these cast a blue light. When I stop a car with suspect headlights I hold a piece of white paper in front of the light. If the paper turns blue, that is illegal and driver gets "Norked" (gets a ticket). See the following NHTSA Interp letter at says, "SAE J578c defines white by blue, yellow, green, red and purple boundaries within a chromaticity diagram. Thus, it is possible to design a headlamp that emits a light that approaches the blue boundary and is perceived as having a blue tint but which nevertheless remains within the boundaries that define "white"".

        As far as what state you live in it does not matter. All states light laws follow FMVSS 108 for the basic MV lights.

        I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT YOU ARGUE WITH ANY POLICE OFFICER WHO MAY STOP YOU FOR THE HEADLIGHTS. You could try carrying a copy of the above NHTSA interp letter with you and politely asking to officer to read the above paragraph (this could backfire). Best bet is to plead not guilty and plead your case at court.

        Hope this answers your question.


        • #5
          Thanks "Norkem", that was very good.

          The links failed though. I'll try cut & paste.
          Last edited by t150vsuptpr; 01-11-2006, 11:10 PM.
          "That's right man, we've got mills here that'll blow that heap of your's right off the road."

          "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars."(it's my home now)

          >>>>> A Time for Choosing <<<<<

          Retired @ 31yr 2mo as of 0000 hrs. 01-01-10. Yeah, all in all, it was good.


          • #6
            Sorry, when I typed the sites, i did not space before the final dash (-) and the blue highlighting included the dash and following word. They are not part of the web site name so the "-this" is not part of the 1st site and the "-it" is not part of the second site


            • #7
              I'm all thumbs tonight

              The FMVSS 108 site is

              The NHTSA interp is

              I screwed that up twice.


              • #8
                My understanding is that NHTSA has threatened to fine sellers of "HID conversion kits" $10,000 per kit sold. You CANNOT install a HID bulb in a headlight designed for a halogen bulb. There is no way you can control the light output properly and you end up blinding oncoming cars and you cannot see properly yourself. Read the fine print on some of these websites selling them..not legal for on-road use....where else do you use a car? They are an illegal & unsafe install. I park any car I find using them.


                • #9
                  Dudley DoRight is right. My 1st post was more concerning the color issue. I found 3 more Interps which say CONVERSION KITS are not compliant with FMVSS108.

                  People may submit requests for interpretations to NHTSA’s Chief Counsel. NHTSA makes its response letters of interpretation available on this webpage.

                  People may submit requests for interpretations to NHTSA’s Chief Counsel. NHTSA makes its response letters of interpretation available on this webpage.

                  People may submit requests for interpretations to NHTSA’s Chief Counsel. NHTSA makes its response letters of interpretation available on this webpage.

                  On this issue, enforcement could vary state to state depending on your state's motor vehicle statutes and motor vehicle regulations. Some states have regulations adopting FMVSS 108 into their laws by reference and if a lighting device does not meet FMVSS 108 you could be ticketed. That would be IF the officers in your area are aware of this. In CT there is no training on DMV Regulations and the Motor Vehicle statutes on equipment are treated lightly with no practical info on current equipment violation trends or inspection methods. But Joe Citizen is from CA where there is a large street racer culture. If Joe gets stopped by a CA officer who regularly deals with this clientel he or she will probably be able to determine if the lights are a conversion kit.

                  Where I work, it is the color of the lights that draw enforcement attention.

                  Thanks Dudley.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the input

                    Thanks for the input.
                    Well I drove the car yesterday (first time with the lights) no one flashed me, but no one wanted to stay in front of me.
                    When I got home after work I had the wife drive the car, while I stood on the sidewalk, so that I could see what the lights looked like as the car went by. OH MY GOD TALK ABOUT GLARING WHITE LIGHT. I then drove the car straight to my garage and switched the lights back to original. I am not one who enjoys getting a ticket, or causing an accident.
                    Again Thanks for the input.
                    Everyone makes mistakes, only some of us
                    learn from mistakes


                    • #11
                      Speaking of HID's man my headlights are obnoctious, i mean down right painful to look at. I can see my headlights bouncing off of signs that no other car's headlights do.

                      I'd laugh if a cop ever pulls me over though, cause their stock. I love audi.


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