August 07, 2020

New state law will prohibit use of light bar devices on roads

On July 13, 2017, NC Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 182: An act to prohibit the use of light bar lighting devices on a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is being driven on the highways of this state.

Motorists will soon be outside the law if they are operating LED light bars while driving on public roadways.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 182 into law on July 13, 2017. It is “An act to prohibit the use of light bar lighting devices on a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is being driven on the highways of this state.”

The bill language states that “no person shall drive a motor vehicle on the highways of this State while using a light bar lighting device. This subsection does not apply to or otherwise restrict use of a light bar lighting device with strobing lights. For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘light bar lighting device’ means a bar-shaped lighting device comprised of multiple lamps capable of projecting a beam of light at an intensity greater than [25 candlepower].”

The law will go into effect on October 1, 2017.

68 Comments

  1. Matthew Bennett on November 30, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Please define ” highway”
    Is that to include deer infested back roads with low traffic? And poorly lit inner city roads with small children often running out into the street?
    And the measurement in ” candlepower”, modern LED is measured in “lumens” or wattage. Candlepower is for Wal-Mart flashlights.

    • Carl on October 12, 2018 at 4:48 am

      Using bright lights around deer are the last thing you want to do as they start running towards the light, running from their shadow. Low set yellow lights work best for that and reduced speed.

      • Jordan on January 9, 2019 at 9:01 pm

        As a person that runs a 52 inch light bar across the top of my truck. This is completely flash. Yeah your lights on your car are just lights that cause the whole deer in headlights effect. But the led light bar is so bright, it hurts their eyes and they will run from it. I have had deer jump in the roadway, look at me, and turn around and jump right back off. They absolutely hate it

        • Austin Good on May 19, 2019 at 5:23 pm

          I run two stacked 54 inch light bars and I agree with you run hate the light if it’s bright but I never run my lights around houses or Other drivers

        • c on October 1, 2019 at 7:01 pm

          The issue is its blinding to drivers because it is mounted so high!

          • Daniel on January 21, 2020 at 8:51 am

            I agree! I want to add a light bar to the bottom of my bumper just so I can see while driving I10 at night. Anywhere outside of major city lights is pitch black. I just got back from my trip out to west Texas last month and I almost hit a concrete construction barricade just outside of San Antonio. The road turned almost 90 degrees, but there was no signage or reflectors in the work zone. The lighting and signage is so poor on some stretches of I10 in Texas I had to go 55-60 in 80 mph zones.



          • Hydro on January 22, 2020 at 4:02 pm

            I find the low-mounted lights, pointing flat out, much more intense than a high-mounted light aiming down in the street.



        • Ronald Miller on January 8, 2020 at 11:59 am

          It’s not the deer that have the problem. It is oncoming traffic. It’s bad enough on the highway, two-lane and four-lane alike, people don’t dim their lights for oncoming traffic. If people drove the speed limits, the need to see further ahead would not be an issue. The LED light-bars, on the other hand, are absolutely blinding to the drivers of oncoming vehicles, and unless the center medians of interstate highways are a quarter-mile or wider, they are going to blind you. If you want daytime lighting conditions, don’t drive at night. They must remain illegal on the roadways.

    • Richard C Chandler on February 9, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      It’s not rocket science ANY USE OF A BAR LIGHT REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT IS POSITIONED ON THE VEHICLE IS AGAINST THE LAW ON ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE WOODS,FIELD,FARM ETC.

      P.S. Off road means not on any highway,city street or any road in city of country. These OFF Road Bar Lights are exactly what they say. Not for use on any normal thoroughfare you use to get from point A or B. Main use is for hunting or camping area excluding RV Parks and campgrounds. Check with the campground or RV Park they have their rules as well.

      • Andrew B on March 3, 2019 at 11:32 am

        Any automotive LED lights you buy now will say, “For Off Road Use Only”, but they allow you to install them in areas such as the license plate light. They really should say, “For Responsible Use Only”. I have LED headlights, tail lights, switchback signals, LED license plate light and LED reverse lights. They are perfectly fine for ON ROAD USE when installed and used properly.

        • Shawn DeVries on January 3, 2020 at 7:09 am

          There you are WRONG. Altering the lighting on any vehicle which Changes that vehicle from its factory specifications is ILLEGAL according to NHSTA regulations. That includes brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, and HEADLIGHTS. Look up section 108 and read it. Or ask any DOT enforcement officer.

          People are sick and tired of being blinded by people modifying their headlights and law-enforcement is starting to take notice And it’s only a matter of time before the idiots who do this will start getting pulled over and ticketed.

          • James on March 9, 2020 at 10:38 pm

            The NHSTA does not approve vehicles and vehicle parts being manufactured or imported into the US. The NHSTA does provide certification for manufacturers and importers and maintains a registry. Car owners and driver DO NOT need to worry about NHSTA regulations as they apply exclusively to manufacturers. The actual regulations that vehicles and parts need to meet are covered in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, FMVSS.

            Lighting is specifically covered under Standard No. 108. These standards cover the laboratory test procedures that manufacturers must use and pass in order to sell parts in the US. Again, car owners and drivers DO NOT need to worry about FMVSS regulations because they apply exclusively to parts being made, imported, and sold in the US. If you are buying parts for your car and it is from a certified company under the NHSTA, then you are buying parts that have been tested and passed safety tests.

            However, it is paramount that when making any modifications to a vehicle that the modification is within the limits defined by state laws. State laws are what motorists NEED to follow in order to pass inspection (and avoid getting ticketed by police). For lighting, people modifying their cars need to keep in mind the position, visibility, color coding, and intensity of the lights being used. While light bars can be mounted to vehicles, their use is banned on most public roads because the intensity and/or position of the light bars blind other drivers and can cause drivers to have accidents.

            If you cannot see well enough with the standard lights installed on a car, then three things need to be addressed:
            1). Check light position. Low beam should project far enough to adequately light the road for sub-highway speeds (55mph or less). High beam should project far enough to adequately light the road at highway speeds (greater than 55mph).
            2). Check light clarity and intensity. If headlights are inadequately bright and/or if the headlight lens is fogged, sun-faded, or dirty then the light needs to be changed and the lens needs to be cleaned.
            3). Check your speed. If you are doing 80mph on a county highway at night then you are going too fast, regardless of your light modifications. Cars are actually expected to go 5-15mph slower at night than during the day, and in many areas there is a separate speed limit for night time driving. Light bars in these situations become a crutch that gives drivers a false sense of security and an excuse to speed.

            Light bars are meant for off-highway use. Many people might find themselves out driving fields, trails, or service roads at night. Light bars are meant for those situations and should be used in any situation where there is a likelihood of running into things like fallen trees, animals, ditches, fences, rocks, etc…

            So if you do install a light bar (or several), put them on a separate circuit from the headlights and mount a toggle switch (or an array of switches for different lights) in the car. Keep the lights off when driving on the highway, and if they lights are adjustable, turn them so they face down sharply at the road. That way if the light turns on accidently, it won’t blind other drivers. If the lights are not adjustable, buy or make covers for the lights. Not only would covers prevent blinding other drivers, but they would protect the lights from damage until they are needed.



          • Bob on July 22, 2020 at 5:19 pm

            really? People modifying headlamps is the least of problems. They are doing this as a RESPONSE. What about the cars that come with lights that are extremely bright and hard to see past as they are STOCK? What about those new LASER headlamps? Yes. You read that correctly. Lasers. And you think someone changing the bulb type is such a problem?



      • John on July 4, 2019 at 9:18 pm

        Did you not read the law? IT SAYS HIGHWAY ONLY

    • Joseph Zemenski on January 2, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Thanks for showing your ignorance. “Candlepower” is a term that has been around and is still being widely used. Only in recent years have people starting using the term lumens… and that has nothing to do with Walmart or cheap flashlights. Even junk flashlights from any store, including Walmart, are now rated in lumens. Some products have ratings published in candlepower, some in both, and some in just lumens.

      Just because you don’t like the sound of the word or don’t know the word, that does not make the word irrelevant.

  2. Robert Kim on December 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

    These lights are blinding! That’s the bottom line! There are too many people who use high beams all the time without regard for other drivers visibility. But, these light bars actually force you to squint or look away! That’s potentially a deadly involuntary reaction!

    • Bob k on September 27, 2019 at 9:31 am

      1 people should used them responsibly. Mine is never on near traffic.
      2 most modern OEM Factory headlights at low beam are brighter that most light bars.
      And now because of this law I cant use mine on amber for plowing. My bar is multi color with multi function. I use white on back roads no traffic no houses. I use amber strobe for plow but the way this law is written because is a “light bar” I’m not allowed to use it at all. Not never amber

      • Todd C on November 5, 2019 at 12:21 pm

        It says “This subsection does not apply to or otherwise restrict use of a light bar lighting device with strobing lights.” So you’re fine to keep using your amber strobe. This law is specifically written to prohibit the use of the white mode that distracts drivers because of how high they’re usually mounted.

    • Ron Miller on January 8, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      As a retired professional driver, I will back up these statements 100%. Particularly on interstate highways. People don’t realize how much glare there is across the center medians. Even when given a quick flash they still will not dim their lights. It is particularly dangerous for people who are especially affected by extra-bright lights. Misdirected auxiliary lights are a problem too because if they are available, people will use them, needed or not. If you are driving at speeds that put your reaction time at risk, you are speeding and overdriving your headlights.

  3. Richard Chandler on December 17, 2017 at 12:20 am

    They will be imposing heavy fines for these lights. They are for off road use only. Highways,City Streets & Rural Roads fall under House Bill 182 under NC General Statutes.

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:48 am

      Absolutely TRUE.

  4. Bryan griffin on January 29, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I have a light bar on my truck and run it on back roads with little to no road lights, I love it, light bars have saved me from deer, cows and people who are in the road, yes they are blinding but I turn it off when passing or following a car I think it is wrong to making them illegal, maybe illegal to have a very big one like 50 inches but a 12 inch isn’t going to hurt no one

    • J.Moody on February 23, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      I agree man i got a little one on my truck because my headlights arent bright

      • Joe on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 pm

        I love them too! ( i even went on to put a 20 in. Light bar on my 2008 ford focus) But yes, they are blinding! Here in el paso texas ppl are buying led headlights too!And i do not enjoy that these things make me feel annoyed because i keep thinking everyone has their brights on.

        • Roller on January 15, 2020 at 10:16 am

          I’m in Las Cruces and whenever I go out I start counting all the trucks, and cars, with light bars. Dude, this is NEW MEXICO there isn’t enough trees to make it that difficult to drive at night. I rarely use my high beams on my car. And needing light bars here for offroading? Why are the tumbleweeds or mesquites that big that they people need all these lights? What it comes down to is they are what everyone is doing so everyone is copying to fit in. Just like the fast n furious people installing mufflers the size of trashcans just to sound like a lawnmower or moped on steroids. Or putting huge wings on these 4 bangers when they are FRONTWHEEL DRIVE! They take traction away from the powered wheels. Oh and how bout the diesel gang? These aren’t for work but turboed and think its cool to blow exhaust at everyone.

          So it’s one thing to upgrade lighting to see better but this has become a follow the leader and social status. If it was so hard to see at night then why do people buy covers or tint their lights? NM is lucky they don’t have yearly inspections because about 60% of the vehicles would be parked. Trust me, I lived on the east coast most of my life.

      • Jimmy hatfield on January 14, 2019 at 7:02 pm

        The lights on my old pickup are very dim and a 12″ bar really helps and while iv been blinded many times it hasn’t been by light bars but rather fog lights or newer model factory head lights

      • Chyenne Elliott on February 17, 2019 at 5:40 pm

        I just put one on my 02 monte carlo because of dim lights. I treat it just like brights just with more distance between the on coming vehicle.

    • Drew Brooks on April 11, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Absolutely agree! It’s one thing to codify how vehicle lights are mounted, so as to not blind other drivers. Instead of banning their use, they should define properly installed lights – what is useable, & guidelines to safely use them.
      I don’t think they are banned where I live yet, so I’m cramming information, to see if I can install what I need before they do… You see, my factory headlights have fogged enough that visibility is badly degraded. Replacement lights, factory & aftermarket are too expensive for me to be able to buy them. Tried to have them buffed out, but little improved, & they soon based over again. I can afford to get some kinds of light bar & install them safely (not blinding), for about 1/4 the money.!!

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:49 am

      All I can say is you had better not use your light bars on ANY public paved surface or you shall be cited.

      • N Miller on December 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm

        Cited by who? You? I’m gonna run them and just pay the ticket if I get it.

    • Luke Novicki on December 7, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Yeah I mounted a 12 inch light bar on a moped and loved using it on back roads

  5. Mason on February 25, 2018 at 2:25 am

    I have a 52 in light bar and a 42 in on my truck with 2 light pods and I run in on the roads and turn it off when I see a car or following a car it’s saved me from hitting deers dogs just about anything I don’t think they should put a law on them

  6. Francesca J Darnall on April 11, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Those of you who don’t want the law and say you turn yours off for courtesy is all well and good but you represent the .01% of ppl who have them and have consideration for the effect on other drivers. Ive seen the little ones that aren’t so bad but my neighbor’s son has a big one he says he has to use cuz his headlights face down at the road and he can’t see ahead rather than adjust his headlights up to shine ahead. Everytime he comes up over a dip at night you get blinded so bad you can’t hardly see a thing but a big bright line for a mile or 2. My truck has regular well adjusted headlights and I live in the country (14yrs) and have yet to hit a possum let alone a dog or a deer. Maybe need to not speed at night during the migrating/mating season!

    • Jeremy16607 on December 17, 2018 at 9:15 am

      I have traditional stock headlights on my kia forte and the stock position of the headlights is terrible i brought the light up some but now people constantly flash me even with my low beams but without the lights up i cant see anything i drive mostly on backroads and have hit multiple deer that were already dead countless skid plates, splash guards have been destroyed as well and even my bumper just from debri being able to see and following correct driver educated i believe they should never be outlawed.

  7. Cathy on May 23, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Do you think this could blind a driver coming around a curve and force them off the road?

  8. Timothy on June 24, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    I have two little 4 inch light bars that are about the size of my fog lights that I want to put on my truck does anybody know if I can run them on road or do I have to shut them off while on the road

    • Earl on December 14, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      You need to turn your fog lights off tooo when meeting traffic

  9. Mike on December 3, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I live near open range roads.
    It’s an hour into and back out of town.
    It’s near thegrandcanyon in Arizona.
    It’s a regular occurrence and not abnormal to see dead cows all along the road. In addition I’ve almost hit them. A good friend of mine hit one. My wife driving home from town last year came upon a gruesome seen of a Fiat that wounded and killed 5 cows all in one collision.
    Last week she and I were headed back from town. We came upon yet another seen of a mortality wounded cow and shocked driver and passenger. They won’t fence the roads and we are sick to death of all the deaths, cattle and humans.
    I don’t want my wife or I to he the next statistic.
    I will put a light bar on my truck. I will be careful to not shine it on an upcoming driver.
    There’s no way in my humble opinion the laws should prohibit these life saving lights in these types of situations.
    Thoughts ?

  10. Julie Walker on December 3, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Do you have to have an amber light permit on the vehicle in the state of North Carolina?

    • JR Allen on May 25, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      I was about to ask same thing because I know you don’t need one or use to not need one because I am a volunteer firefighter in North Carolina and in some states say in order to have any kind of amber flashing emergency lights you need a permit but I was wondering if it changed to were you did need a permit.

      • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 6:12 am

        NOPE.

  11. corey jacob on January 23, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    If you need to use excessively bright lights, like light bars on the road way . Also complain about the head lights not being bright enough at factory specs. YOUR DRIVING TOO FAST FOR THE CONDITIONS OF THE ROADS, SLOW DOWN RECKLESS DRIVERS!

    • Brian Biggs on May 18, 2019 at 6:44 am

      Light travels at 189,000 miles per second. I should be able to drive that fast.

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Another perfect comment.

  12. Andrew Powell on February 2, 2019 at 7:54 am

    I just put a 21.5 light bar on my Kia Rio Bc when my girl drives at night she can barely see whether it’s a lit up road or not. How ever she doesn’t use the bar if on coming traffic or following a vehicle only when no cars. There’s a difference between actually needing the light bar for visual use and using it respectfully then using it to blind someone that’s all I’m saying.

  13. Joe M on February 24, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I hope that they outlaw them all. I live in a rural area with many deer, livestock, critters, etc. I use stock headlights that are bright, but not by the “new” standards of these LEDs and HIDs on many cars. A previous poster hit the nail on the head when they said all of you that turn these lights off are in the 0.01% of those that do. And even with you, all it takes is that one time where you pop up over a hill with me coming in the opposite direction and you have them on. It is blinding, and on these rural roads, they are not that wide so any reaction that I may have to correct and steer away from this vehicle that has appeared will take me towards the ditch. You can all say what you want, but it just takes that one time to blind someone momentarily and cause them to wreck, while you continue on down the road telling people that you turn them off. I have a neighbor that just started using one all the time on our county roads that goes across the entire top of his cab, and it is terribly blinding and he does not turn them off. So when those of us voice our dislike of them, please know that MOST people do not have any courtesy or brains on when to use them on-road. And even those that have the best intention to turn them off, it just takes that one time to really ruin someone’s day and put them in the ditch. Therefore, IMHO they need to be allowed for off-road use only, and I would like to see them go one step further and require covers on them when on public roads, as people will still use them if they are uncovered and therefore “available”.

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 6:04 am

      PERFECT COMMENT! Absolutely PERFECT!

  14. Ken b on February 27, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    I have been blinded and flashed my high beams on a vehicle that has a full led bar on top and on bumper. Never turned the lights off. I use k.c daylighters on back roads because I can see for a mile. If someone is coming towards me I turn them off. But these led bars I am glad they make them illegal because the lights can cause an accident. I am thinking about a camera so if this happens I can show proof. Be respectful of others. Turn them off even if it is a 4 lane, 2 lane or a 6 lane road. Thanks

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 6:02 am

      Nice comment, but BOTH are illegal to use on the public roadways.

  15. Bubba on February 28, 2019 at 8:14 am

    There are a handful of manufacturers that produce street legal light bars (FMVSS compliant). It will be interesting to see how this shakes out with people who own those lightbars.

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

      NO LIGHT BARS ARE LEGAL TO USE ON THE ROADWAYS.

  16. Liam on April 5, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Can I use the bar light on the road when no one else is on the road? I get off work at 10:30pm where I am no one is on the road then. And then I go in at 4:55am again no one is on the road, can I use them?

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:59 am

      In ONE WORD………

      NOPE!

  17. Phil on May 4, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    If I am at a car show on the street AND parked ) can I have a red/ blue light bar on a Mustang interceptor hooked up to a second battery and have it hooked up to a push button switch be legal ?

    I know on privet property they cant do anything

    In the state of Washington state

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:59 am

      Absolutely NOT. If you are on the public roadways AT ALL… it is TOTALLY ILLEGAL!

  18. Cody on June 24, 2019 at 1:09 am

    I just bought a 22inch light bar for my 1995 Jeep Wrangler I mean come on it’s a 24 year old Jeep and when I’m on the backroads it really helps light up the road and the woods around. I love it! It has saved my life a couple times from animals crossing to seeing upcoming turns and road signs a good distance away. Absolutely worth the money in my opinion I feel that as long as you are using them responsibly you should be okay

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:57 am

      Nope. Illegal to use them at all on the roadways.

  19. Anders on July 26, 2019 at 4:33 am

    I’ve got my truck wired up with plenty of these bars. 1 50 inch over the cab and a 20 and 30 inch on my grill and bumper. I’ve also got 4 12 inch bars under my running boards. I just almost never use them, like the way they look though, prefer to have the option and not have to use them ever kinda like my truck bed. Have it but hardly ever use it. My question is can you still get a ticket just for having them present on the vehicle or does it pertain only if they are in operation?

    • T Hardin on August 17, 2019 at 5:56 am

      Only pertains to the USE of them.

  20. William on August 18, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Hello Everyone,
    I landed here after searching to see if mounting a 26 imxh light bar on the rear of 2009 jeep patriot would be legal. My reason for this is high beamers from the rear. In PA people love to highbeam. I would only use it when I can’t even see through my mirrors because my cab is lit up from someone high beaming me from the rear. I HATE IT! Keep your distance please!…

  21. Mac on September 4, 2019 at 1:27 am

    Factory headlights on newer vehicles are the same, if not brighter. Shall ride around with mine, in the bumper angled down like always. Pass many law enforcement with no problem. 🤷🏾‍♂️😅

  22. Traivyn on November 26, 2019 at 11:06 am

    I agree with mac, why can’t people have led light bars on their vehicle when the lights in newer vehicles are very bright and they are led and they are blinding when people forget to turn on their dim lights and what if you are on a backroad and your normal headlights aren’t bright enough so you can turn them on and they make it to where you can see where your going

  23. Edward Brown on January 8, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    Found this by accident.Light bars and accessory lights are very popular in Australia. Laws are that if you use them on the road they must be wired into the high beam dimmer switch. Switch to low beam they go off. They are also switched so the high beam can work without the acc lights.
    The important thing is that we also have laws that prohibit High Beam in “built up areas” (where there are street lights) and within specified distances of oncoming traffic.
    Maybe these are the type of rules that you may find acceptable?

  24. Eric Bowers on January 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Just use LED light pods. I’ve got four Rigid pods on the front of my Jeep that put out a tremendous amount of light when needed. I turn them off for oncoming traffic and do not use them behind other vehicles… keeping common sense and courtesy in mind. Both are in very short supply these days.

  25. Morrison Coker on February 20, 2020 at 6:50 am

    I have a 20 inch LED bar light in my bumper of my 2010 F150 King ranch i live out in the country i have 40 acres of land and the closest neighbor to me is 2 miles away
    I only use my bar light when i am out on my property or on the road when there is fog or no one coming at me when i do see a car on the road to turn it off (most of the time its my neighbor or someone lost) its 12 miles to town. So i do believe they have a good time to use one and a bad time not to use them. Do i believe a little shots car need a led bar light No i dont.. i top of that it looks stupid on a car. If you cant see with your head lights maybe you need better headlights..i dont see why anyone needs a 50 inch plus bar light my 20 inch is bright enough..

  26. Vincent Mannelli on March 17, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    All of this gibberish!!! The bottom line is they are ILLEGAL and you cannot use them as the law states!!!!!!!! You people have regard,you are blinding oncoming traffic!!!!! A law has been created because people like you all that run light bars could care less if you’re blinding oncoming traffic!!!!!!

  27. Robbie on March 24, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    A led light bar mounted below the head lights used as aux lights/fog lights that go off either toggle switch/relay when high beams are used and are horizontal and do not exceed a beam height of 25 feet falls under the auxiliary lighting guidelines and are compliance with pa code. I’ll fight it if I get stopped for it.

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