Originally published February 1, 2021.

A new Indiana headlight law took effect on July 1, 2021, that should eliminate any confusion for motor vehicle owners about what color lights are legal to use. This comprehensive guide by Wagner Reese covers the new requirements, exceptions, and penalties associated with Indiana headlight laws. 

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Wagner Reese, LLP is a premier law firm specializing in personal injury and automobile accident cases. With decades of experience, our dedicated attorneys have successfully represented countless clients, securing millions in compensation for accident victims. We understand the complexities of personal injury law and are committed to providing compassionate, top-notch legal assistance. 

Our team is well-versed in navigating cases involving vehicle modifications, ensuring that our clients receive the best possible outcome. Trust Wagner Reese to advocate for your rights and help you achieve the justice and compensation you deserve.

Understanding Indiana Headlight Laws

Indiana’s headlight law aims to enhance road safety by preventing confusion with emergency vehicle lights, which use colors like red, blue, and green. Here is what Indiana drivers need to know:

New Vehicle Light Requirements in Brief

  • Popular headlight colors such as red, blue, green, and yellow are now banned on the front of vehicles. Only white or amber colored headlights are now allowed.
  • Brake lights and taillights must all be red.
  • Backup lights are being restricted to basic white hues.
  • License plate lights can only be white.
  • Hoosiers are responsible for removing the now banned colored lights from their vehicles or they may be ticketed.

Colored Headlights Now Banned in Indiana

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 266 in March, 2021. The legislation was created to set rules related to headlight, signal light, and brake light color in support of increased motor vehicle safety.

As of July 1, 2021, the law went into effect and says that headlights on motor vehicles, motorcycles, and motor-driven cycles may display only white or amber light. Rear signal lamps on the rear of a vehicle must display only red light, amber light, or any shade of color between red and amber.

If you have previously modified your vehicle’s lights, you are responsible for making the changes.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Front Lights: The new law bans popular headlight colors such as red, blue, green and yellow on the front of vehicles.
  • Brake Lights: All motor vehicles (except motorcycles) manufactured before Jan. 1, 1956, must be equipped with two red brake lights.
  • Underbody Lights: No restrictions have been set on accent or underbody lights.
  • License Plates: Plates must be displayed in a horizontal and upright position with the registration expiration year and renewal stickers in the upper right corner. License plate lights can only be white.
  • Stop Lamps or Taillights: These lights must all be red.
  • Backup Lights: Rear back up lights are now restricted to only amber or white color.
  • Emergency Vehicles: EMS, firetrucks, and police vehicles are exempt from this law.

Manufacturer lights, such as bright LED shades that may appear blue, are still OK.

Headlight Laws in Indiana: The Exemptions, Myths, and Penalties,

Indiana’s enactment of a ban on colored headlights brings into focus several key aspects beyond the prohibition itself. While the law mandates the use of white headlights during nighttime and low-visibility conditions, exceptions exist for daytime running lights and fog lights. These exceptions must adhere to specified brightness and color standards to avoid compromising safety on the roads.

Misconceptions about Indiana’s headlight regulations often revolve around the belief that colored headlights, like blue or red, might enhance visibility or be permissible under certain circumstances. However, the law unequivocally prohibits any deviation from the standard white headlights to maintain consistency in visibility and safety for all road users.

Non-compliance with Indiana’s headlight regulations carries significant penalties, including fines and potential points on driving records. Such penalties underscore the state’s commitment to enforcing uniform safety standards and promoting responsible driving practices among motorists.

Why the Law Was Changed

Colored lights are designated for emergency vehicles. When passenger vehicles use them, it can create confusion on roadways.

Vehicles that have been modified outside of factory standards can also induce additional safety issues for other drivers and cause accidents.

In Indiana, there are already other laws in place prohibiting modifications to motor vehicles.

These include select modifications to the:

  • Sound system
  • Muffler
  • Frame and suspension
  • Engine
  • Windows (such as in the case of tinting)

Any modification of a vehicle, outside of factory standards or without manufacturers approval ratings, could reduce its handling, safety, or performance.

Insurance, warranty, and service plans may be affected, and coverage rates for risky drivers who modify their vehicles will likely increase. If a driver modified their vehicle, even in the case of simply changing their headlight or brake light color, and was then involved in an accident, some insurers may deny coverage and the owner may be liable for any damages.

How Unnecessary Car Modifications Put Other Drivers at Risk

Illegal, higher-voltage, colored lights aren’t typically factory standard, and owners usually install them for personal and aesthetic or performance-enhancing reasons. While personalizing a vehicle may be exciting for some car owners, it can pose a risk to motorists who are not used to seeing colored lights on passenger vehicles.

After-market headlights or fog lights may be excessively bright or positioned in a manner that can potentially blind other drivers or confuse them as designated colored lights are meant for emergency vehicles only. In addition, the rewiring or modification of a vehicle’s structure could make a motor vehicle and its safety features less reliable.

Common aftermarket modification owners make include:

  • Loud exhaust systems
  • Suspensions kits for higher lifts and low rides
  • Big wheels or studded tires
  • Cutting and widening to create larger rims
  • Flashing lights or underbody spotlights
  • Off-road 100-watt or more lamps
  • Removal of emission equipment
  • HID headlight and taillight modifications
  • Dark tinted windows and glass
  • Plate frames
  • Speed enhancements and nitrous injection kits
  • Spoilers and turbo engines
  • Cold air intakes
  • Computer mapping boxes
  • Swapping engines or brakes

These motor vehicle modifications sometimes make a car, truck, or motorcycle more dangerous to drive and damage from installation can cause trouble on the roadway. Whether minor or catastrophic, car accidents often involve some form of trauma, be it physical, emotional or both.

Tips for Headlight Maintenance and Road Safety

Headlights are indispensable for preventing accidents and ensuring road safety. They provide crucial visibility during low-light conditions, such as dusk, dawn, and nighttime, as well as in adverse weather like rain and fog. Properly functioning headlights not only help drivers see potential hazards but also make vehicles more visible to others, reducing the risk of collisions. Here’s how to keep your headlights in top shape and ensure safe driving:

  • Regular Inspections: Get in the habit of checking your headlights regularly. Make sure both lights are functioning properly. Look for signs of damage or misalignment.
  • Cleaning: Headlight lenses can become cloudy or dirty over time, reducing their effectiveness. Clean them with a headlight cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth to restore their clarity.
  • Alignment: Properly aligned headlights ensure the beam pattern illuminates the road effectively and doesn’t blind oncoming drivers. If you notice your headlights seem off-center, have them adjusted by a professional.
  • Replace When Dim: Headlights dim over time. If you find yourself squinting to see at night, it’s likely time to replace them. Replace them in pairs to ensure even light distribution.
  • Visibility Conditions: Always use headlights during reduced visibility conditions like dusk, dawn, rain, or fog.

By following these simple tips, you can maintain optimal headlight performance and contribute to safer roads for everyone.

What Type of Injuries Can Modified Vehicles Cause?

When modified vehicles cause crashes, either by malfunctioning or by distracting or confusing other drivers, serious injuries may result.

Common injuries from this type of motor vehicle accident includes:

  • Brain and Head Injuries: Head and brain injuries such as skull fractures can have serious long-term effects, and the results can be life-altering. In addition, some serious car accidents can cause concussions and whiplash that create lasting complications that eventually reveal a more serious issue.
  • Broken Bones and Fractures: Bone fractures and injuries are overly common in car accidents, because of the types of impacts people usually experience. It’s possible to break a bone anywhere in your body.
  • Burn Injuries: Car accident burns can cause swelling, blistering, disabilities, infections, life-long scarring and disfigurement, and in some serious cases even death.
  • Neck and Back Injuries: Neck sprains and strains, commonly known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in claims. Other common back injuries include herniated discs or spinal cord damage.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Topical scrapes occur, and muscles, tendons, or ligaments can be stretched or torn in an accident

What Type of Compensation is Available for Accident Victims?

Those involved or injured in an accident involving a modified vehicle may be entitled to a number of different types of damages under Indiana law.

Some of the more common types of damages in accident cases are:

  • Reasonable and necessary medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Reduced earning capacity in the future
  • Future medical expenses and prescriptions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairment

Free Car Accident Consultations

Drivers are responsible for making sure their vehicle is safe for the road. If an owner has made the choice to install potentially unsafe vehicle modifications and the changes cause an accident or injury to others, they should be held accountable.

If you have been injured in a wreck caused by a modified car, truck or motorcycle, call the at Wagner Reese for a free consultation.

We have recovered millions in compensation for victims injured in car crashes. Calling a lawyer to handle a claim can take time, but it could be worth thousands you may not have received otherwise.

Connect with us by submitting our online form, and our attorneys will review your information, and respond promptly.