Is It Legal In Texas To Drive With Christmas Lights On Your Car?
When it comes to putting up Christmas lights, there are many Clark Griswolds out there. For many of us, putting up lights on our homes and wrapping our trees is just part of what we do for Christmas. But some want to go further and decorate their car or truck.
For those who want to decorate their car for Christmas, some will put the fake antlers on their windows, while some truck owners will put small wreaths on the grill of the truck. And then you have some who want to go all out and put Christmas lights on their car, SUV, or truck. But that leads to a big question.
Is it legal in Texas to drive around with Christmas lights on your vehicle?
It may surprise you to learn that the question is often a difficult on for officers to answer.
I reached out to the Lubbock Police Department to ask if people could drive around with Christmas lights on their car or truck. The answer I got back was sort of a mixed bag. The officer I spoke with said, "I wish it was a clear cut answer."
According to this officer with the Lubbock Police Department, there are "several traffic code statutes that are relevant to the topic, but non that address it specifically." Even when it comes to just driving around with a wreath attached to your truck, there is nothing that specifically addresses it. I'll list those statutes below.
But there does seem to be some common sense items. For example, a string of small white lights around a luggage rack might be okay. But multi-colored lights all over the car? That could lead to a fine as it did for one man in 2017, though that was in South Carolina. In 2018, a police officer in Port Arthur wrote in an advice column that you can have Christmas lights on your vehicle, as long as they are turned off while driving. Though he doesn't point to any statute of law for reasoning.
Another common sense thing to stay away from? Flashing red Christmas lights on the front or really, anywhere on your vehicle. As you'll be able to read from the statutes below, flashing red lights are a big deal that police take seriously. So a wreath that is unlit and doesn't block your view of the road? Probably not a big deal.
While there doesn't seem to be a clear answer on the legality of Christmas lights on your vehicle while driving, it still may be something you steer away from. You probably don't want to be pulled over, and no officer wants to be the Grinch who pulled you over. But on un-lit wreath? Go for it. And if your car is just sitting in the driveway or parking lot? Light it up!
Texas Traffic Statutes on Lights
Traffic Code 547.302 Duty to Display Lights - Drivers are not permitted to have more than four lamps “lighted” to the front of their vehicle while driving. However, the light must project a beam with an intensity brighter than 300 candlepower to be classified as a lamp.
Traffic Code 547.303 Color Requirements - A motor vehicle lamp or illuminating device, other than a headlamp, spot lamp, auxiliary lamp, turn signal lamp, or emergency vehicle, tow truck, or school bus warning lamp, that projects a beam with an intensity brighter than 300 candlepower shall be directed so that no part of the high-intensity portion of the beam strikes the roadway at a distance of more than 75 feet from the vehicle.
(b) Except as expressly authorized by law, a person may not operate or move equipment or a vehicle, other than a police vehicle, with a lamp or device that displays a red light visible from directly in front of the center of the equipment or vehicle.
Traffic Code 547.332 Other Lamps Permitted - A motor vehicle may be equipped with:
(1) not more than two side cowl or fender lamps that emit an amber or white light without glare;
(2) not more than two running board courtesy lamps, one on each side of the vehicle, that emit an amber or white light without glare; and
(3) one or more backup lamps that:
(A) emit an amber or white light only when the vehicle is not moving forward; and
(B) may be displayed separately or in combination with another lamp.
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