Recently we have had several inquiries as to whether or not HID lights are legal in Georgia. I want to start with my disclaimer… I am not a legal professional, lawyer, state trooper, or anyone else that might take legal responsibility if this is proven inaccurate! I am simply posting about the laws specific to the Georgia vehicle code in regards to headlamps. HID Laws vary from state to state and this post does not imply that HID Laws in one state will reflect the Headlight Laws in another state.
So, Are HID lights legal in Georgia?
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights are easily recognized on the road at night. If you’ve ever seen bright blue-tinted headlights at an intersection or seen the glare from a glance in your rearview mirror, chances are they were HIDs. In most cases, these lights come equipped in the newer high-end vehicle models. However, oftentimes these lights are an aftermarket modification and are against federal laws. Kind of like this…
In Georgia, there are no state laws that strictly prohibit the use of HID or xenon headlights. The only laws that regulate vehicle headlights are those concerning the mounted height of the lights as well as the color. According to the Code of Georgia – Motor Vehicles & Traffic- Title 40, Chapter 8, all lights must conform to the SAE J578 color standard. This color standard states that headlights must be significantly white in color [x = 0.31 (blue boundary), x = 0.44 (green boundary), y = 0.38 (red boundary)]. Since the color temperature of HID headlamps can be between 5000-6000K, it falls within the SAE standard for white. However, aftermarket modification or conversion HID light kits on vehicles go against federal law.
Despite the “DOT” symbol on replacement HID conversion kits or HID light reviews, replacing headlights requires that you must use the vehicle’s existing light source (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 180). Any manufacturing company that is in compliance with federal standards according to NHTSA, a DOT off the branch, can place the DOT sticker on their product. So even if xenon or HID conversion kit has a “DOT” sticker that does not mean that it is street legal.
In order to follow the above safety standard, it would make sense to just change the light source from the original halogen system to the HID light system. However, that too violates federal law. Federal law 49 U.S.C. 30122 prohibits mechanics from “rendering inoperative any equipment installed in accordance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.” NHTSA’s major concern is that they believe HID headlight conversion kits would impair oncoming traffic with excessive glare. It is seen as a safety hazard.
Another issue NHTSA has with HID conversion kits is that the wiring of older cars can’t support the necessary energy that the lights would need in order to work. This could cause the wiring or your actual car to fry which intern could harm you or others if this happens on the road.
Since many state laws defer to federal standards, Georgia law enforcement agencies can stop and issue a citation for any vehicle they believe were modified with illegal aftermarket HID lights. While there may not be specific HID laws in Georgia, you can get pulled over for illegal use of HID conversion kit headlights. Unless your HID lights are factory installed, expect that you will eventually get a ticket for using these kits.