Tennessee's Headlight Laws

By Sangeet Duchane
Car headlight

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Tennessee has strict laws about the use of headlights. Drivers must have at least one working headlight on each side of the car and must use the lights at prescribed times. Headlights must also be of a quality approved by motor vehicle manufacturers. The lights must not blind or dazzle other drivers or pedestrians. If they do, the motor vehicle owner is required to install state-approved anti-glare devices.

Headlight Use

Under Tennessee Code sections 55-9-401 and 55-9-406, any motor vehicle traveling on a state highway, state aid road, or any street or road under the control of the state government, federal government, or local government (city, town, county) must use headlights at the times required by the statutes. Drivers are required to use headlights from 1/2 hour before sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise in normal conditions. They are also required to use headlights when visibility is low because of fog, smoke, and rain. Rain is defined in the statutes to include rain, mist, snow, and other forms of precipitation.

Equipment Required

Section 55-9-402 of the statutes requires at least two headlights on a motor vehicle, but not more than four. There must be at least one working headlight on each side of the vehicle. Section 55-9-406 requires these headlights to give sufficient illumination to see a person 200 feet ahead in normal conditions on a flat road. Sections 55-9-406 and 55-9-4 forbid glaring or dazzling headlights. The vehicle's owner can ensure this by using headlights used by car manufacturers and adding an anti-glare device approved by the Tennessee Department of Safety.

Penalties for Headlight Law Violations

Failure to use headlights during rain or other precipitation is a Class C misdemeanor under section 55-9-406. A highway patrol officer is authorized to stop motorists to check for glare and dazzling lights. Failure of the driver to submit to this inspection is a Class C misdemeanor under section 55-9-410. Under section 55-9-409, if a driver is found to be driving with headlights or anti-glare devices not approved by the state, the patrol officer will give the driver 24 hours to replace the faulty equipment. The driver may be required to appear in court and prove compliance. If the equipment is state-approved but out of adjustment, the driver has 48 hours to correct it. Sections 55-9-411 and 55-9-412 provide for inspection stations were a driver can have headlights properly adjusted and get compliance certificates.

About the Author

Sangeet Duchane practiced law for several years before becoming a writer. She has since published five nonfiction books and articles in various magazines and online for eHow and Advice.com, among others. She specializes in articles on law, business, self-help and spirituality.

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