Smoked tail lights are popular among drivers because of several factors, including a stylish look and protection against UV rays and dirt. However, the extent of the tint can be a deciding factor according to the prevailing laws in your residential state.
Are Smoked Tail Lights Legal? The legality of smoked tail lights depends on the local state laws in your area and their compliance with regulations from the Department of Transportation (DOT). One crucial factor in this respect is the visibility of tail lights from a distance of 100-1000 feet and the percentage of tints applied to lights. Moreover, tint color should also adhere to the guidelines from local authorities. However, dark tinted or completely blacked-out tail lights are illegal in all US states, and you can get a fine for such violation from police officers.
Tail lights are imperative for your safety as they indicate the presence of your truck to other drivers and prevent any road accidents.
Therefore, this article will guide you regarding the legal use of tinted or smoked tail lights and specific state laws. We will also discuss any particular benefits of tinted lights and associated hazards to avoid their use.
Are smoked tail lights DOT approved?
All the products related to safety should have to meet specific requirements and standards from the Department of Transportation (DOT) before using them on vehicles.
Although there are no clear instructions from DOT regarding the use of specific colored tail lights, one thing for sure is their clear visibility of them to other truck drivers.
Use of too dark shades or colors that obstruct the view of rear lights is illegal and can result in a ticket from cops.
However, specific laws can vary from state to state and depend on the police officer you are dealing with.
Therefore, I will recommend using the lightest tint you can get from the market or online stores. Moreover, all DOT-approved tail lights have a stamp on them mentioning their legality to police officers.
Various US States laws regarding smoked tail lights
Specific laws regarding smoked tail lights in all 50 states in the US vary according to their local administration and regulations.
In some states, cops can charge you a heavy fine for any slightest modifications with stock tail lights, while in others, they don’t even bother if you have stylish tints applied.
However, completely blacked-out or too dark shades are prohibited in all states.
Tinted lights are completely illegal in California. People use spray paints or vinyl tints to change their color.
In California, they think of it as causing cancer, and therefore, they have banned the use of smoked tail lights.
Moreover, they require that your rear light be visible from a distance of 500-600 feet and have a red color.
According to Texas state laws, rear lights should have red color and be visible from 950-1000 feet.
Moreover, using any tint or spray paint that impairs its effectiveness or visibility is illegal. There is also explicit instruction regarding the prohibition of blacked-out tail lights.
Few truck drivers use black-out lights because of their sleek and stylish look, but their use is illegal in Washington state. Its violation can attract the attention of the cops and can charge you with a ticket.
Tinted or smoked tail lights are also illegal in Virginia. They require products to have their original or stock red shade visible to other drivers.
Similarly, these are not primarily legal in other states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
However, you can use them in Florida with a limited percentage of tint and their clear visibility from a distance of 1000 feet.
What tail lights are legal in the US?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) in the US is responsible for approving various products to be used on highways.
Therefore, accessories on your pickup truck must comply with DOT laws and regulations to be legal on the roads.
Moreover, you will also find the DOT tag stamped on legal tail lights to avoid any tickets or investigations from the cops.
DOT approves their designs and shades based on their visibility and illumination from a few hundred feet away.
However, other factors like dirt and snow can obscure their visibility on your vehicle.
Despite using DOT approved products, police officers can stop you and impose a fine for violating the law in such a scenario.
Therefore, a specific criterion for tail lights to be legal on the US highways and roads is their clear visibility and sufficient illumination in standard colors.
What is the penalty for using illegal smoked tail lights?
Completely blacked-out tail lights are illegal in all US states, and you have to pay a fine if some law officer notices any unusual or unlawful modification in its color or design.
However, the extent of the penalty can vary from state to state and that of a police officer. Its typical range can vary from $100 to $150.
However, in some states, laws are strict regarding the matter, and you can have to pay as high as $1000, but that is rare for such a minor issue.
Therefore, you should ensure proper working lights in red or approved colors with sufficient luminance to avoid any penalty from police officers.
How dark can you tint your tail lights?
You can tint the tail lights of your truck in several ways, including using spray paint, using film of a specific color, or aftermarket lens covers to change its shade.
However, it is legal as long as the extent of the tint is within certain limits.
For example, although there is no specific law mentioning the amount of darkness for the tail lights but a general rule of thumb is that it should be less than 50 percent of its light.
Making it darker than that can attract the attention of the police, and you have to pay the fine as it is an issue related to public safety.
Moreover, there are DOT approved lighter tints available in the market and online stores that are entirely legal.
Is there any benefit of using smoked tail lights?
The benefits of using smoked or tinted tail lights are more of aesthetic nature instead of functional.
The main motive for using smoked tail lights is to give your truck a smooth, glossy, and stylish look by using darker shades.
It also improves their protection by adding an extra layer that prevents any damage or cracks.
It also helps protect the lens from the yellowing effect resulting from UV rays. Moreover, they control the brightness of the lights to avoid a blinding effect on the truck drivers behind you.
What are the hazards of using smoked tail lights?
The state laws prohibit any modification beyond acceptable levels in tail lights because it is a feature of your vehicle related to safety.
Therefore, these are not generally permitted by law officers. The first hazard associated with them is the reduced visibility of your vehicle to other drivers behind you.
In a few unfortunate mishaps, it can result in an accident compromising your family’s safety.
Moreover, it can land you a ticket by police officers if tail lights are not visible in a specific color from a distance of a few hundred feet according to your state laws.
Moreover, it is hazardous for the environment and public health as spray paints, used for the purpose, contain certain carcinogenic chemicals.
It also dramatically reduces the visibility of your vehicle in bad weather conditions like storms, snow, and for, increasing the risk of an accident.
Can you use smoked tail lights for off-road use?
Yes, you can use smoked tail lights for off-road use. The off-roads are not as strictly protected or governed by law officers as roads and highways.
Moreover, traffic influx is not of the extent as on main roads. Therefore, darker tints do not have any legal repercussions or hazards for off-road applications.
However, it will be valid as long as you are away from highways.
In that case, you should be aware of your local state laws and fulfill their requirements regarding the visibility and color of the lights in all states.
Furthermore, it becomes imperative in states like California that have strict traffic laws regarding road safety.