Texas Headlight Laws: Are You Breaking the Law?

Written by Staff Writer

Although there are many similarities among headlight laws from state to state, one might say that the devil is in the details. Depending on where you live, the law may require you to have your headlights on during sunrise or sunset hours, during inclement weather conditions, or when visibility is limited to a certain degree. To ensure that you're not breaking any rules of the road, read on to learn the basics of Texas headlight laws.

How Texas Does Things Differently

In Texas, headlights must be used at nighttime and when visibility is less than 1,000 feet. This varies from other stricter states, like Arkansas, which requires drivers to also use headlights when the windshield wipers are in use. This is a pretty common law across the country, and more and more states are starting to tighten headlight laws to take wet weather into account. The Texas law is also more relaxed than the law in say, Pennsylvania, where headlights are even required in construction zones.

Headlights for Night and Day

To comply with Texas law, you must flip on your headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. Otherwise, the 1,000 feet rule applies when visibility is a challenge on the road.

Headlight and Tail Light Colors

All motor vehicles in Texas are required to have two working headlights that are white in color. It's also important that your headlights aren't obscured by a cover or grill. Bulbs must have a "DOT" or appropriate SAE stamp on them. This really only becomes an issue with some aftermarket lights that are not equipped from the auto manufacturer.

Regarding tail lights, all vehicles in Texas are also required to have at least two stop lamps that emit a red or amber glow. These lights must be visible from at least 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight.

Other Lighting Advice

Avoid installing any device that impairs the effectiveness or color of your headlights or tail lights and make sure that your license plate is clear of decals or coverings that obscure the letters and numbers on your plate. Be mindful that motorcyclists are required to use headlights during both daytime and nighttime hours to increase their visibility to cars and trucks. Similarly, bicyclists should have a light on the front of their bikes and a red light or reflector on the back at night.

Not only does improper headlight usage put you and your passengers at a greater risk of an accident, it's also an excellent reason for a police officer to pull you over and issue you a ticket. If you're interested in removing traffic ticket points from your license, look into our Texas Defensive Driving Online Course, which you can conveniently take at home around your own schedule.