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LuckyGuy's avatar

LED lights on cars. If only one is out, can you be pulled over by police?

Asked by LuckyGuy (34732points) July 12th, 2011

As cars get more energy efficient, LED lighting has become more widespread. In case you are unfamiliar with them, LED lights are usually a collection of smaller lights (8–20) that make up one unit. Before LEDs, in my state, NY, you would fail inspection if one bulb was out. That made sense One headlight or taillight is significant.
But with the new LEDs, one bulb out of 20 means nothing. It is even hard to tell if one is out. Adding to the hardship, you can’t change one bulb. You must replace the entire unit at very high cost. $400 for a single bulb. $750 for a pair.
Does anyone know if cars will pass inspection with one LED out? Will this become a good excuse for police officers to pull you over?
Will inadequate inspection laws that have not kept up with the technology send energy efficiency initiatives back to the dark ages?

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7 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wouldn’t think so. But I don’t know.

LuckyGuy's avatar

My worry is that an overzealous officer can use that as a excuse. Or the State can use it as a chance to increase revenues by fining people for nothing.
If one light out is ok, is two? What about 3? Where will they draw the line?

You know these questions will have to be answered, eventually.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Logically if the light output is virtually unnoticable I would say no. but the law trying to shaft the average Joe for any buck they can squeeze from him, I would not put it pass them. I have been stopped because one side of my car plate light was out. If the cops smell money, you can bet tickets for something so stupid will fly hot and heavy.

jaytkay's avatar

I looked up my state laws. They are defined by function, so your hypothetical LED light will not earn you a ticket.

Motorcycle headlight
“a white light visible for at least 500 feet in the direction the motorcycle is proceeding.”

All other headlights
“All other motor vehicles shall exhibit at least 2 lighted head lamps, with at least one on each side of the front of the vehicle, which satisfy United States Department of Transportation requirements”

Brake lights
“a red or amber light visible from a distance of not less than 500 feet to the rear in normal sunlight and which shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake”

Turn signals
”...must be visible from a distance of not less than 300 feet in normal sunlight. ”

LuckyGuy's avatar

@jaytkay That is a great idea. Define it by visibility and distance. i like it. What state are you in?

We (NY) can fail inspection for having a side marker light out. If the car was designed to have the lights you cannot pass inspection if one or more are not working.

dabbler's avatar

@jaytkay that’s the ticket ! There is a defined spec for what the light has to accomplish.

On the other hand @worriedguy is right, try telling that to the overzealous officer.
They could still maintain there is some kind of ‘malfunction’ to mess with you.

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