Are colored vehicle lights – from green to purple – legal on California roads?

what headlight colors are illegal

Q: We recently had two readers asking about colored lights on vehicles.

First, Anselmo Pena of Palm Desert emailed a photo of a late-model green Mustang sporting after-market bright green headlights that Pena said change to various colors. Pena asked if these lights are street legal and, if not, is it legal to own them but keep the lights on white while driving?


Second, reader Taline Khandamian asked if pink or purple fog lights are legal in California.

A: We will address Pena’s questions first.

The answer here is no and yes. Green headlights — or lights of any color other than white or yellowish white and, in some cases red — are not legal.

California Vehicle Code section 25950 states, in part, “Unless provided otherwise, the color of lamps and reflectors upon a vehicle shall be as follows: (a) The emitted light from all lamps and the reflected light from all reflectors, visible from in front of a vehicle, shall be white or yellow, except as follows: (1) Rear side marker lamps required by Section 25100 may show red to the front. (2) The color of foglamps described in Section 24403 may be in the color spectrum from white to yellow … Any incidental visible light projecting to the front of the vehicle shall be predominantly yellow to white.”

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It would be OK, however, to have these lights on the car as long as they are set to white while driving (assuming there is a white-light setting; if there is not, then the car with these lights cannot be driven on a public road).

The car’s owner could use the green-light setting for a photo shoot, for example, or some other personal, non-driving, commercial purpose. As for the pink and purple fog lights our second reader asked about, the answer is the same. They have to be white or yellowish white also, according to the same vehicle code section.

Q: Chino resident Gary Leonard wrote about the 60 Freeway and its heavy truck traffic through the Inland Empire. Leonard noted that trucks often drive in inner lanes where they don’t belong, a problem previously and often covered in On the Road.

Leonard asked, “I know we need trucks, but why is the 60 Freeway their main route?”

A: If you look at a map of Inland Southern California, it’s not hard to see why the 60 is so crowded with trucks and cars.

It is a major east-west freeway that runs all the way from Beaumont on the east into Los Angeles, going through Moreno Valley (where there’s a Walmart Supercenter and many warehouses), heavily populated Riverside and UC Riverside, by Ontario International Airport, through the even more populated San Gabriel Valley, through the City of Industry, where there are many manufacturing businesses, then finally into Los Angeles.

The 60 runs through heavily populated residential and commercial areas and is a key trucking route where goods travel from east to west and vice versa. Many of these large trucks are heading west carrying shipping containers to reach ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as train yards for shipping elsewhere.

The 60 is the best way for them to get to their destinations.

Q. Murrieta resident Allan Nakamura was one of a handful of readers seeking more information, details or clarification about making appointments in advance with the Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver’s license is expiring.

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A: Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of DMV spokesman Marty Greenstein.

Appointments are available up to 90 days in advance. It’s also worth noting that an appointment is not necessary. You can just go to a DMV office before the expiration date.

“The average wait time statewide for customers without an appointment has dropped below 45 minutes,” Greenstein said. “Waits have been particularly low on Saturday afternoons at our 62 offices that offer Saturday service.”

Visit the DMV website,, for DMV office locations. In the Inland Empire, DMV offices with Saturday hours include those in Fontana, Hemet, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Bernardino and Temecula.

Also, Greenstein clarified that the DMV now sends notices about expiring drivers’ licenses 120 days before they expire to give people more time to make an appointment and gather their documents to apply for a REAL ID. You don’t have to wait for your renewal notice to arrive in the mail, though, he noted.

If you know you need to visit the DMV, make that appointment or just walk in. A final tip from our reader S. Ruiterman: He observed that the walk-in lines seem shorter after lunch at the Norco DMV where Ruiterman went recently and said he was in and out in 90 minutes. The Norco DMV is at 3201 Horseless Carriage Drive.

Do you commute to work in the Inland Empire? Spend a lot of time in your vehicle? Have questions about driving, freeways, toll roads or parking? If so, write or call On the Road and we’ll try to answer your questions. Please include your question or issue, name, city of residence, phone number and email address. Write or call +61404532026.