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155 S. Seward St.
Juneau, AK 99801

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Juneau Police Department

Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"

Q. I've noticed many different hues on headlights lately (white, blueish, yellowish, etc.). Is there any law governing what is "approved" for road use? Are yellow headlights legal?

Dear Juneau Resident,

The easy answer is in CBJ ordinance 72.04.020 which says that the headlights must emit white light to the front of the vehicle.

Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it appears at first. Some cars come from the factory with the type of headlight that seems to have a slightly blue tint to it. The theory is that the new headlight is more effective than the old light. The blue-ish lights have started showing up on new, mostly high end vehicles. Some examples are Lexus, Cadillac, and BMWs. These headlights are known as xenon or High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights according to a car enthusiast (Gearhead) JPD officer. The blue-ish lights then became fashionable and people started buying after market kits to turn headlights blue strictly for the coolness factor; think spinning rims and spoilers.

Some after market kits are fine because they are identical to what the big car companies use after safety testing and having their lawyers check the equipment against state laws, including case law. A low end after market kit could be scary (blue film, blue paint). It is easy to see why the police would object to that type of after market tinkering because the result can easily compromise the effectiveness of the headlights, which is a safety issue.

So here it is in a nutshell, and at the risk of sounding like the channeling of parental units, if you monkey with the car after itís made you run the risk of doing something illegal. Do your research first.

On the common sense side, it doesnít seem reasonable to expect someone with factory installed and safety tested headlights to change them. The theory of being reasonable is drilled into JPD officers who very well might stop the car and investigate how blue the headlights really are and how they got that way.

There is an advertisement on the internet for lights that make a yellow tint around the blue tint to function as fog lights. No one could make this stuff up. Same law enforcement reasoning applies. A ticket is a reasonable result if after market work compromises safety.


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