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  1. #1
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Light bar/fog lights laws?

    Anyone know the latest laws regarding mounted led light bars or fog lights on a vehicle? Specifically for California? I'm reading different things online.

    Just ordered a bull bar for the face of my jeep and it has mounting holes for lights, trying to figure out the legality and whether it's worth it. Would they have to be covered at all times while street driving?

    They would be something like this if I mount them:

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  2. #2
    I lift therefore I am PlanoLifter's Avatar
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    Fog lights should really only be used ... basically never. Except in very poor conditions they actually reduce long distance night vision.

    Read this:

    https://www.danielsternlighting.com/...fog_lamps.html
    Flight crew
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  3. #3
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PlanoLifter View Post
    Fog lights should really only be used ... basically never. Except in very poor conditions they actually reduce long distance night vision.

    Read this:

    https://www.danielsternlighting.com/...fog_lamps.html
    Thank you for the info -repped. I may have used the term 'fog lights' generically. Some are called 'driving lights' - are they the same thing? Something like this:



    They're billed as "driving lights" - same thing?

    I go off-road driving probably twice/year for camping trips - so the lights are not a 'must have' I just think they look cool and would compliment the bull bar aesthetic. I'm trying to figure out the legality and whether it's worth it...
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  4. #4
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Various sections of CA law:

    "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a vehicle may be equipped with not more than eight lamps for use as headlamps while the vehicle is operated or driven off the highway. The lamps shall be mounted at a height of not less than 16 inches from the ground, or more than 12 inches above the top of the passenger compartment, at any place between the front of the vehicle and a line lying on a point 40 inches to the rear of the seat occupied by the driver, shall be wired independently of all other lighting circuits, and, whenever the vehicle is operated or driven upon a highway, shall be covered or hooded with an opaque hood or cover, and turned off."

    So this section ^^ states that extra 'headlamps' must be covered when not off-road.

    BUT - another section states:

    "(a) Not more than four lamps of the following types showing to the front of a vehicle may be lighted at any one time:
    (1) Headlamps.
    (2) Auxiliary driving or passing lamps.
    (3) Fog lamps.
    (4) Warning lamps.
    (5) Spot lamps.
    (6) Gaseous discharge lamps specified in Section 25258.
    (b) For the purpose of this section each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp.
    (c) Subdivision (a) does not apply to any authorized emergency vehicle."

    This makes it sound like you can have 4 lamps of each type lit with no mention of where you are driving.

    Then another section:

    "(a) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary driving lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 16 inches nor more than 42 inches. Driving lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam.
    (b) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary passing lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 24 inches nor more than 42 inches. Passing lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the lower beam from headlamps and may also be lighted with the upper beam."

    This section sounds like you can have 2 auxiliary driving lamps...

    Hence all the confusion lol.
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    Registered User 10w30's Avatar
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    I believe it's a nationwide law that you can only have a number of four lamps on at any given time. It can be a combination of head lamps, fog lamps, spot lamps etc.

    Some states also have laws that have specific height requirements of the lamps and if they exceed a certain height they have to be covered at all times on road.

    California could be different though.

    Last edited by 10w30; 06-29-2020 at 07:30 PM.
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    Originally Posted by PlanoLifter View Post
    Fog lights should really only be used ... basically never. Except in very poor conditions they actually reduce long distance night vision.

    Read this:

    https://www.danielsternlighting.com/...fog_lamps.html
    Fog lights should be mounted as low as possible to go under the fog unlike the bar OP posted.



    If my car had the 1.75 candlepower output like the pic OP posted I'd want more light as well, but I'd look at legal HID or LED retrofits, no not the ebay junk that doesn't have the right housings and blinds everyone.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    I believe it's a nationwide law that you can only have a number of four lamps on at any given time. It can be a combination of head lamps, fog lamps, spot lamps etc.

    Some states also have laws that have specific height requirements of the lamps and if they exceed a certain height they have to be covered at all times on road.

    California could be different though.

    Yeah I posted some relevant bits of CA law right above your post...it's a bit confusing lol. Do the limitations on the 4 lights only apply to mounted auxiliary lights or factory lights as well?
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  8. #8
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KilaByte View Post
    Fog lights should be mounted as low as possible to go under the fog unlike the bar OP posted.



    If my car had the 1.75 candlepower output like the pic OP posted I'd want more light as well, but I'd look at legal HID or LED retrofits, no not the ebay junk that doesn't have the right housings and blinds everyone.
    You seem to know your stuff. Basically I'm trying to figure out what kind(s) of lights I can mount without having to cover them at all times...even better if I can actually use them while street driving. Are DOT-approved 'driving lights' okay?

    These are very popular on Amazon and have great reviews, but there is varying feedback as to the legality. (same Hella lights from pic I posted above)

    https://www.amazon.com/HELLA-0057509...s%2C211&sr=8-5
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    Registered User 10w30's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Yeah I posted some relevant bits of CA law right above your post...it's a bit confusing lol. Do the limitations on the 4 lights only apply to mounted auxiliary lights or factory lights as well?
    I think it counts for factory and non factory auxiliary lights.

    Looking at the section of laws you posted it looks like you could wire up those KC/HELLA style spot lamps to turn on and have the factory fog lamps turn off to be legal.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    I think it counts for factory and non factory auxiliary lights.

    Looking at the section of laws you posted it looks like you could wire up those KC/HELLA style lamps to turn on and have the factory fog lamps turn off to be legal.
    But then section (b) states:

    "(b) For the purpose of this section each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp."

    So my factory headlamps count as "one lamp" and if I mount a pair of headlamps that would also be "one lamp"...so by this logic I should be okay using all lights?
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  11. #11
    Registered User 10w30's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    But then section (b) states:

    "(b) For the purpose of this section each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp."

    So my factory headlamps count as "one lamp" and if I mount a pair of headlamps that would also be "one lamp"...so by this logic I should be okay using all lights?
    The head lamps would be pairs, two pairs would be four lamps.

    The Jeep Renegade in your original post has a total of six lamps turned on and would be illegal.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    The head lamps would be pairs, two pairs would be four lamps.

    The Jeep Renegade in your original post has a total of six lamps turned on and would be illegal.
    Ah I must be reading it wrong - I thought one pair = "one lamp" based on that section..."...each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp"
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    Registered User 10w30's Avatar
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    You can have 10+ lamps on the vehicle, but on road you can only have a maximum of four lamps turned on, the rest would have to be turned off or covered.

    All states are different, and some will be more strict than others when it comes to the height of the lamps. Especially for lowered cars or lifted trucks and SUVs.

    Last edited by 10w30; 06-29-2020 at 08:01 PM.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    You can have 10+ lamps on the vehicle, but on road you can only have a maximum of four lamps turned on, the rest would have to be turned off or covered.

    All states are different, and some will be more strict than others when it comes to the height of the lamps. IE lowered cars or lifted trucks.

    Gotcha. That more or less covers it - regardless of type or strength of lamp - you can only have 4 on while on the road. Thanks again.

    Curious that the Jeep you posted has 2 elevated/mounted lights that are uncovered - assuming then that it only has 2 headlights off-picture and no fog lights or cornering lights...
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    Modification to the oem light is illegal.

    Installing supplementary lights can only be used off road.

    You wont get pulled for simply having it on your car but you could be pulled over if you use the lights on public roads and they are deemed too bright. Dont be a douche and blind others - which is what the laws try to prevent.
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Ah I must be reading it wrong - I thought one pair = "one lamp" based on that section..."...each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp"
    That section of the law seems to contradict the other section.

    If one pair equaled one lamp. You could have a maximum of eight lamps turned on, but that looks like for off highway/off road use only.
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    Registered User 10w30's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Gotcha. That more or less covers it - regardless of type or strength of lamp - you can only have 4 on while on the road. Thanks again.

    Curious that the Jeep you posted has 2 elevated/mounted lights that are uncovered - assuming then that it only has 2 headlights off-picture and no fog lights or cornering lights...
    That's where the height requirement comes in, those lamps up high depending on the state your driving in have to be covered when driving on road.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    That section of the law seems to contradict the other section.

    If one pair equaled one lamp. You could have a maximum of eight lamps turned on, but that looks like for off highway/off road use only.
    Right...hence my confusion, the way they write the laws is all over the place. Another section says you can have 2 auxiliary driving lamps:

    "(a) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary driving lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 16 inches nor more than 42 inches. Driving lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam."

    So the law says you can have 2 auxiliary driving lamps to supplement the headlamps - that alone would be 4 lights. And that other section says one pair of headlamps is "one lamp" so.....argh.
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    It would be best to clarify at a local police/highway patrol office what you can or can't have for lamps in your state.

    IMO lamps will always get you pulled over. Especially at night.

    If they're aimed too high, too bright, or if they're burned out, it's just asking for it.
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    In CA, if you think there is any chance something might be illegal on a vehicle, it probably is.

    There is also things about how bright a lamp can be.
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    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    It would be best to clarify at a local police/highway patrol office what you can or can't have for lamps in your state.

    IMO lamps will always get you pulled over. Especially at night.

    If they're aimed too high, too bright, or if they're burned out, it's just asking for it.
    Originally Posted by Jasonw1178 View Post
    In CA, if you think there is any chance something might be illegal on a vehicle, it probably is.

    There is also things about how bright a lamp can be.
    Yeah. Sounds like I may just skip the mounted lights altogether. Seems like a lot of hassle for something that will just be covered up 95% of the year. I live in LA, so it's not like a rural area where I could get away with it.
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    Originally Posted by Jasonw1178 View Post
    In CA, if you think there is any chance something might be illegal on a vehicle, it probably is.

    There is also things about how bright a lamp can be.
    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Yeah. Sounds like I may just skip the mounted lights altogether.

    Seems like a lot of hassle for something that will just be covered up 95% of the year. I live in LA, so it's not like a rural area where I could get away with it.
    Recently cops have been cracking down on the LED light strip bars. They're super bright.

    If you had them turned on day or night on the street you were getting pulled over.

    Check out some of the other state lamp laws: It seems many have their own regulations.




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    Interesting thanks ^^^

    But ultimately doesn't answer the specifics of CA law...just says "off-road lights must be covered" but WHAT COUNTS AS OFF ROAD LIGHTS lol? Trying to make sense of the written laws hurts my brain. I think I'm hung up on the "pair of headlamps equals one lamp" bit and trying to find a loophole.

    I'm going to err on the safe side and assume any lights I mount will have to be covered on road.
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    lol most laws are written like that. It's usually never point blank and straight to the point for some reason.

    Looking at some of the Hella lamp kits on Summit Racing website they're labeled as auxiliary driving lights. There was no mention for off road use only.

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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    lol most laws are written like that. It's usually never point blank and straight to the point for some reason.

    Looking at some of the Hella lamp kits on Summit Racing website they're labeled as auxiliary driving lights. There was no mention for off road use only.

    Yeah those look like the ones I was eyeing on Amazon..."auxiliary lights" - are they off-road lights with regard to having to be covered? And do they adhere to the CA law allowing two supplemental driving lights? And do those alone count as 4 "lamps?" And will I ever get to the bottom of this mystery, Scooby Doo?
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Right...hence my confusion, the way they write the laws is all over the place. Another section says you can have 2 auxiliary driving lamps:

    "(a) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary driving lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 16 inches nor more than 42 inches. Driving lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam."

    So the law says you can have 2 auxiliary driving lamps to supplement the headlamps - that alone would be 4 lights. And that other section says one pair of headlamps is "one lamp" so.....argh.
    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    But then section (b) states:

    "(b) For the purpose of this section each pair of a dual headlamp system shall be considered as one lamp."

    So my factory headlamps count as "one lamp" and if I mount a pair of headlamps that would also be "one lamp"...so by this logic I should be okay using all lights?
    I think what California law is interpreting here is dual low and high beam lamps that would be common on older cars and trucks.

    Each side had two separate lamps but worked as one unit. Low/high beam lamps for a total of four lamps.

    Some of the old school cars also had factory installed fog lamps. Total of six lamps. But with stock factory wiring only a combination of four lamps could turn on simultaneously.



    Last edited by 10w30; 06-30-2020 at 12:41 AM.
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    I think what California law is interpreting here is dual low and high beam lamps that would be common on older cars and trucks.

    Each side had two separate lamps but worked as one unit. Low/high beam lamps for a total of four lamps.

    Some of the old school cars also had factory installed fog lamps. Total of six lamps. But with stock factory wiring only a combination of four lamps could turn on simultaneously.



    Ah that might be it...
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Ah that might be it...
    Those two extra lamps you're thinking about might, or might not have to be covered.

    It's hard to say for sure without getting a straight answer from the vague description of that California law. It wasn't really definitive on what can or cannot be used.
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    Originally Posted by 10w30 View Post
    Those two extra lamps you're thinking about might, or might not have to be covered.

    It's hard to say for sure without getting a straight answer from the vague description of that California law. It wasn't really definitive on what can or cannot be used.
    My current thinking on the matter is - the two auxiliary lights to supplement the headlamps can be uncovered and used in conjunction with my high beams. So wired so that they turn on/off with my high beams. That's what I'm going to try I think...

    Referring to this section of the law: "(a) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not to exceed two auxiliary driving lamps mounted on the front at a height of not less than 16 inches nor more than 42 inches. Driving lamps are lamps designed for supplementing the upper beam from headlamps and may not be lighted with the lower beam."
    Last edited by sunsean; 06-30-2020 at 08:40 AM.
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    Yeah so after posting in a Jeep forum and doing some more reading/thinking...this is the consensus:

    The 2 auxiliary driving lights that supplement your high beams do not have to be covered as they are considered 'driving lights' and not 'off-road lights.' They can only be used in conjunction with your high beams (so no oncoming traffic). On most (all?) cars when your high beams are on, the fog lights are automatically disengaged. Meaning when the high beams are on, those PLUS the two auxiliary driving lights would be okay as you'd be under a total of 4 forward facing lamps.

    That's what I'm going with. We'll see if the police agree! Thanks again for your help
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