Indiana Traffic Laws for Headlights & Tail Lights

broken taillight close up,  car broken after an accident covered with rust and dirt.
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Indiana Code Section 9 -19-6-4 provides that a motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer or pole trailer, or any other vehicle drawn at the end of a train of vehicles, must have at least one taillight on the rear. The light must emit a red light plainly visible from 500 feet. Only the taillight on the rearmost of a train of vehicles must be seen from 500 feet. If the vehicle has a taillight out, the driver may get a ticket with a fine and directions to repair the broken light.

Indiana Law Requires Two Taillights

Indiana traffic laws provide that a vehicle registered in Indiana and manufactured or assembled after January 1, 1956 must be equipped with at least two taillights on the rear that emit a red light visible from 500 feet. Motorcycles and motor-driven cycles are excepted from this rule. A taillight on a vehicle must be located at a height between 20 and 72 inches.

Either a taillight or a separate light must be placed and built to illuminate the rear registration plate with a white light. The plate must be clearly legible 50 feet to the rear. The taillights and separate light for illuminating the rear registration plate must be wired to be lit whenever the headlights or auxiliary headlights are lit.

State Laws About Colored Lights

Headlamps on motor vehicles, motorcycles and motor-driven cycles may display only white or amber light. Taillights may only display red light. Backup lights must be white or amber. A license plate light must be white. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) vehicles, fire trucks and police vehicles are exempt from these headlight laws.

Use of Headlights Under Certain Conditions

The Indiana Driver’s Manual provides that a driver should use headlights while driving in rain or fog. A motorist should avoid using high headlight beams in fog because low headlight beams better illuminate the roadway and objects ahead. When driving in snow, a driver should brush snow off the headlights and tail lamps frequently.

Drivers are required to use headlights between sunset and sunrise and at other times when visibility is less than 500 feet. When headlights are on, a driver should use lower headlight beams when approaching within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or when following within 200 feet of the rear of another vehicle. Repeatedly flashing a vehicle’s headlights is considered to be a mark of an aggressive driver.

Emergency Lighting When a Vehicle is Disabled

A driver on a rural road should use low-beam headlights to make themselves more visible to other drivers. There are situations where a car will become disabled on a divided highway that requires a driver to use headlights.

When this occurs, the driver of the disabled vehicle must take precautions by placing a lighted fuse, a lighted red electric lantern or a portable red emergency reflector 100 feet behind the car and 100 feet in front. The lighted items must be placed in the center of the lane occupied by the vehicle. Further, one of the signals must be placed at the traffic side of the vehicle and approximately 10 feet from the vehicle in the direction of the nearest approaching traffic.

Blue Light Laws

A member of a volunteer fire department may display blue lights on their privately owned vehicles as they drive to scenes of emergencies or the fire station in the line of duty. Members of volunteer fire departments must have a light source of at least 35 watts or use a blue light-emitting diode (LED).

Blue lights must be placed either on the:

  • Top of the vehicle.
  • Dashboard inside a vehicle, shielded to prevent distracting the driver.
  • Front of the vehicle on the bumper or at bumper level.

A driver may place no more than four blue light assemblies on one vehicle. Each blue light assembly must be flashing or revolving. A blue light assembly may contain multiple bulbs, but may not be a part of the regular headlights on a vehicle.

A driver may use alternately flashing headlights as a supplemental warning device and install strobe lights or flashers into the light fixtures on the vehicle other than the alternating headlights. The strobe lights or flashers may be white or blue, but red in the rear only.

Permit for the Use of Blue Lights

A volunteer firefighter must get a written permit from the chief of the volunteer fire department to use blue lights. They need to carry the permit with them at all times when the blue light is displayed. If an owner of a vehicle lawfully equipped with a blue light allows another to drive their car, that person may operate the vehicle only if the blue light is not lit.

A person who violates blue light rules commits a Class C infraction. The penalty for a Class C infraction is a fine up to $500. A violator who is a member of a volunteer fire department can be disciplined by the chief under fire department rules and regulations.

A driver of a vehicle displaying blue lights does not get the right of way or an exemption from traffic rules. The driver must obey all traffic rules. A vehicle displaying a blue light and driven by a member of a volunteer fire department is not included as an authorized emergency vehicle.