New York State Car Headlight Laws


Proper headlight use increases your safety while driving at night and in poor weather conditions. Use your headlights properly to ensure your safety. New York state has specific laws regarding use of headlights while driving. Drivers in New York state must know and understand these laws in order to avoid traffic tickets.

Night Driving

  • According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Driver's Manual, New York state requires motorists to turn on their headlights when driving at night. Headlights are required one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise. Driving with headlights at dusk and dawn increases your visibility. The manual also suggests driving with headlights during the day to help other drivers see your car on the road, though it is not required by law.

Inclement Weather

  • Rain, snow, fog and other elements decrease your visibility while driving, and other drivers can have difficulty seeing your vehicle in inclement weather. Turn on your headlights during poor weather conditions to increase your visibility. If you use your wipers to clear your windshield while driving, turn on your headlights.

Amount of Headlights and Power

  • New York state law requires all vehicles to have two headlights in the front of the vehicle. You cannot place any object on the front of the vehicle that blocks the headlights. Car owners must take care to properly aim the headlights so they do not produce excessive glare for other drivers. Owners cannot use headlight bulbs that exceed 32 candle power.

High Beams

  • High-beam headlights allow you to better see the road when driving at night. You can use high-beam headlight bulbs more than 500 feet from an oncoming vehicle and 200 feet from a vehicle driving in the same direction. You may find while driving that an approaching driver does not turn off his high-beam headlights. Flash your high-beam headlights once to inform the driver his high-beam lights are on.

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