September 4, 2020

Colored Bulbs

The bulb must have a "DOT" or appropriate SAE stamp on it. Currently, there are NO DOT approved "Red" bulbs.

  • Vehicles that are equipped from the manufacturer with approved lenses which are clear and lighted by red L.E.D. lights will pass state inspection.
  • Vehicles that are equipped with aftermarket lenses which are clear and lighted by a red bulb will be rejected. (Currently, there are NO DOT approved "Red" bulbs.)

Vehicle lighting equipment is covered in Chapter 547 of the Texas Transportation Code, Subchapter D. § 547.3215 - Use of Federal Standard. Unless specifically prohibited by this chapter, lighting, reflective devices, and associated equipment on a vehicle or motor vehicle must comply with:

  • The current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section 571.108; or

  • The federal standards in that section in effect, if any, at the time the vehicle or motor vehicle was manufactured.

The CFR will refer you to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) #J578, which will refer to several other SAE standards. Everything that complies with those standards is "legal."

Equipment manufacturers have to self-certify that they meet these standards. DOT does not test equipment unless they act against those who don't meet standards. You should ensure that the equipment vendor is reputable and that all equipment has a DOT or appropriate SAE stamp on it (or if not marked, keep the box that it comes in which says it is "DOT approved") and under no circumstances use equipment that is for "off-road or show only."


Clear Tail Light Lenses

For clear taillight lenses to be legal, they must consist of the following components:

Stop Lamp

  • All motor vehicles are required to have functioning stop lamp(s), as applicable to the number of stop lamp(s) equipped on the vehicle at the time the vehicle was originally manufactured.

  • A stop lamp must emit a red or amber light, or any shade of color between red and amber.

  • A stop lamp must be visible from a distance of not less than 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight.

  • The stop lamp shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake and may be incorporated with one or more other rear lamps.

  • Stop lamp lens must be of a type meeting Department of Public Safety standards.

Tail Lamp

  • Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with at least two tail lamps, unless vehicle was manufactured prior to 1960, in which case your vehicle is required to be equipped with one (1) tail lamp mounted on the rear which, when illuminated, shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 1,000 feet to the rear.

Rear Reflector

  • Every motor vehicle shall carry on the rear, either as part of the tail lamps or separately, two or more red reflectors.

  • Rear reflectors on a vehicle shall reflect a red color.

  • Red reflectors required on the rear of a vehicle may be incorporated with the tail lamp assembly.

  • Every reflector upon any vehicle shall be of such size and characteristics and so mounted as to be visible at night from all distances within 600 feet to 100 feet from such vehicle when directly in front of the lawful lower beams of head lamps.

Turn Signal

  • Signal shows white or amber to the front, and

  • Signal shows red or amber to the rear



Any device that impairs the required effectiveness of headlamps, tail lamps, reflectors, etc., is prohibited. The lights, both front and rear, are made by the manufacturer to meet this safety standard. An alternate or additional material, particularly something dark, would impair its effectiveness. Additional information on lighting can be found in the Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 547, Subchapters D & E.

The inspection criteria for tail lamps states: "Tail lamp. Inspect and reject if: lamp is obstructed by any part of the body."

License Plate

Transportation Code §502.409 prohibits attaching or displaying on a motor vehicle a number plate or registration insignia where:

  • Letters, numbers, or other identification marks that because of blurring or reflective matter are not plainly visible at all times during daylight, or

  • An attached illuminated device or sticker, decal, emblem, or other insignia that is not authorized by law and that interferes with the readability of the letters or numbers on the plate or the name of the state in which the vehicle is registered. This would mean that, subjectively (or in the eyes of the law enforcement person), all illuminated license plate frames - especially the neon ones, are NOT LEGAL.

  • A coating, covering, protective material, or other apparatus that:

    • Distorts angular visibility or detectability;

    • Alters or obscures one-half or more of the name of the state in which the vehicle is registered; or

    • Alters or obscures the letters or numbers of the license plate number or the color of the plate.