I've got a drug bust resulting from a traffic stop for HiD headlights, allegedly with a candle brightness greater than 300 and the lights being blue (another alleged traffic infraction). Problem is, how does my officer know it's greater than 300 candle brightness and is there any law prohibiting use of HiD lights (blue or otherwise). I can't find anything in § 547.004, § 547.3215, § 547.321 or any other provision of the TTC. Under 49 CFR there are various other restrictions but nothing that I have found that makes HiD lights otherwise illegal, including if said lights are "blue" in color. Any help would be much appreciated!
While it would be technically illegal to display a blue light to the front of a vehicle, so long as the lights are DOT approved, you can't do much about it. A few years ago our DPS troopers were writing tickets for displaying blue lights, but when the bulbs were discovered to be original equipment or DOT approved that was the end of that.
Some of the HID bulbs for sale on the web are European, and while approved by the EU, they are not approved here....but how the officer on the street can tell the difference, God only knows.
Thanks! Do you have any caselaw or other direction/authority you can provide that I can use to articulate my position either to the officers or to the court in what is sure to be a MTS?
TRC 547.3215 incorporates Federal Standard:
Sec. 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Unless specifically prohibited by this chapter, lighting, reflective devices, and associated equipment on a vehicle or motor vehicle must comply with:
(1) the current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section 571.108; or
(2) the federal standards in that section in effect, if any, at the time the vehicle or motor vehicle was manufactured.
FMVSS 108 (571.108):
S5.1.5 The color in all lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment to which this standard applies shall comply with SAE Standard J578c, Color Specification for Electric Signal Lighting Devices, February 1977.
TABLE I–a—REQUIRED LAMPS AND REFLECTIVE DEVICES requires headlamps to be white.
SAE Standard J578c defines white here:
Basically defines white as having color temperature between 2854K (towards yellow) and 5000K (towards blue).
Good luck.This message has been edited. Last edited by: jrotert,
It would seem like reasonable suspicion to investigate if the color/brightness were significantly different...
I have copies of three NHTSA interpretation letters regarding replacement HID headlamp kits. Let me know if you want copies emailed to you. the last one is from 2004. The problem arises when people retrofit vehicles with HID headlamps that originally had halogen or regular headlamps. Many of these kits--many of which are actually marked "for off road use only"--don't contain the technology to ensure they don't beam too high and blind oncoming drivers. If a vehicle has HID headlamps installed as original equipment, the vehicle should be compliant with Federal Standard 108. The same cannot be said for most vehicles that have had HID kits substituted for the original headlamps.
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