Is it Illegal to Drive With One Headlight Out?

One random weekend a few of my buddies and I decided to take a trip to Colorado to go snowboarding. At the time I didn’t know I had a headlight out so once we spent the weekend there we proceeded to drive back home and about half way back into the night we had gotten pulled over. Fortunately for us he had given us a warning and let us go on with our day, but could it had been different? Is driving with one headlight out actually illegal? This is what I have found out.

Yes, it is technically illegal to drive with one headlight out, as driving with just one headlight is considered a safety hazard. In many jurisdictions across the US, it is also illegal to drive with a broken taillight, damaged windshield/windows, or other damage that may impair your ability to safely operate your vehicle. I wouldn’t also advice using your brights to cover the fact that you’re headlight is out either.

When you continue reading you’ll learn how the consequences and how to fix having a headlight out.

States Penalty For Driving With A Headlight Out?

photo of a car with a headlight out

If you are caught driving with a headlight out, the consequences will vary depending on where you live and the severity of the offense.

States like New York and California, for example, typically issue fines for driving with a headlight out. In some cases, you may also face points on your license or even have your license suspended if you are found guilty of this offense multiple times.

However, in other states such as Virginia and Montana, driving with one headlight is not considered to be a traffic violation and is therefore not punished as heavily.

What To Do If You Have A Headlight Out?

If you do notice that your headlight is out, there are a few steps you can take to address the issue.

First, you should check your headlight bulbs to see if they simply need to be replaced. If that is the case, you can often find replacement bulbs at an auto parts store or even online. You may also want to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or schedule a professional inspection with your local mechanic to see if there is a more serious problem affecting your headlights.

In addition, you may also want to consider investing in a headlight restoration kit or service. These kits can help improve the visibility of your headlights and restore their original brightness, so that you’re not at risk of being pulled over for driving with one headlight out.

Funny story, I have an old ford taurus and sometimes the headlight might go out, what randomly works for me is to kick the headlight. Yes it sounds wild but it works.

Can You Turn Your Brights On?

this is a photo of one bright headlight on

I’ve definitely had times where I would use my brights to cover up the fact that I had a headlight out. Which on highways it would work pretty well because you’re spaced out but in towns it doesn’t work so well.

Yes, you can turn your brights on when driving with one headlight out. However, it is important to only use your high beams when necessary and to be careful not to blind other drivers on the road. You should also try to have any necessary repairs or replacements made as soon as possible in order to ensure that you are able to safely operate your vehicle.


Whether or not you are breaking the law by driving with one headlight out is ultimately up to your local jurisdiction. However, it is generally advised that you avoid driving with just one headlight in order to reduce the risk of accidents and traffic violations. If you do find yourself in need of a repair or replacement for your headlights, be sure to talk to a mechanic or car dealer for recommendations on the best options for your vehicle.