Texas Automotive Lighting Laws: Colored Bulbs and More

When customizing your vehicle's lighting, it's essential to understand the local laws and regulations to avoid issues during inspections. In this blog, we'll cover the rules surrounding colored bulbs, clear tail light lenses, and other lighting requirements in Texas. Let's dive in!

Colored Bulbs 

In Texas, colored bulbs must have a "D.O.T." or appropriate S.A.E. stamp. Currently, there are no DOT-approved red bulbs. Vehicles with manufacturer-approved clear lenses and red L.E.D. lights will pass state inspections. However, vehicles with aftermarket clear lenses and red bulbs will be rejected.

Lighting Regulations 

Vehicle lighting equipment in Texas is governed by Chapter 547 of the Texas Transportation Code, Subchapter D. Lighting must follow the current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section 571.108 or the standards at the time of the vehicle's manufacturing. Make sure your equipment vendor is reputable, and all equipment has a D.O.T. or appropriate S.A.E. stamp. Avoid using equipment meant for "off-road or show only."

Clear Tail Light Lenses 

In Texas, legal clear taillight lenses must include a stop lamp, tail lamp, rear reflector, and turn signal. The stop lamp must emit a red or amber light, while the tail lamp should emit a red light visible from a distance of 1,000 feet. Rear reflectors must be red, and turn signals should show white or amber to the front and red or amber to the rear.


Texas prohibits devices that impair the effectiveness of headlamps, taillamps, or reflectors. These lights are designed by the manufacturer to meet safety standards. Using alternate or additional materials, especially dark ones, could impair their effectiveness.

License Plate Regulations 

Texas Transportation Code §502.409 prohibits attaching or displaying any number plate or registration insignia on a motor vehicle that has letters, numbers, or other identification marks not plainly visible during daylight. Additionally, illuminated devices or stickers, decals, emblems, or other insignias that interfere with the plate's readability are not allowed. This means that, in the eyes of law enforcement, all illuminated license plate frames, especially neon ones, are not legal.

By understanding and following Texas automotive lighting laws, you can ensure your vehicle passes inspections and stays on the right side of the law. 

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