Are Wig Wag Headlights Illegal? Exploring the Legality of This Controversial Car Modification

Are wig wag headlights illegal? This question has been on the minds of many car enthusiasts. If you’re considering modifying your car, then you might have thought about wig wag headlights as a way to enhance your vehicle’s appearance. But before you start customizing, it’s important to understand the laws regarding the use of wig wag headlights in your state.

The legality of wig wag headlights varies from state to state. While they may be permitted in some areas, they’re considered illegal in others. It’s important to note that the use of wig wag headlights can be dangerous, as they can be distracting to other drivers on the road. This is why those who want to use this type of aftermarket headlight should first check their state’s laws to ensure it’s allowed.

While wig wag headlights can be a cool and exciting addition to your vehicle, it’s important to understand the potential consequences of using them. For starters, if they’re not permissible in your state, you could face fines and even have your car impounded. Furthermore, if you do use them, you could be putting yourself and other drivers in danger, potentially leading to accidents on the road. So, if you’re considering upgrading your headlights, make sure to do your research and learn more about the use of wig wag headlights in your state.

Headlight laws and regulations

Headlights on vehicles play an essential role in providing drivers with visibility while on the road, especially during low-light conditions, fog, or bad weather. As such, several laws and regulations exist to ensure that headlights are used appropriately and maintained at safe levels.

  • In the United States, headlight laws and regulations vary from state to state and are typically overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Most states require vehicles to have two headlights that emit a white or yellow light, with one located on each side of the front of the vehicle.
  • The headlights must be bright enough to illuminate objects 350-400 feet away from the vehicle and not be too bright to blind other drivers.

Additionally, some states have specific laws governing the use of headlights during certain weather conditions:

  • Some states require drivers to use headlights when using windshield wipers during rainy or snowy weather.
  • Several states also require the use of headlights during foggy or misty conditions.
  • In other states, it is illegal to use high-beam headlights when approaching other vehicles from behind or within 300 feet of another vehicle in the opposite direction.

To ensure that headlights are compliant with regulations, the DOT has established a set of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These standards set criteria for the amount and distribution of light emitted by different types of headlights.

The use of wig wag headlights, which emit alternating flashes of light from the headlights, can be illegal under certain circumstances. The use of such headlights is generally prohibited on public roads, as they can be a distraction to other drivers and cause confusion. In some emergency vehicles, such as police cars and ambulances, wig wag headlights are allowed but must be used in conjunction with other warning lights.

Overall, it is essential to understand the specific regulations regarding headlights in your state and ensure that your vehicle’s lighting system is compliant with the law.

Types of Headlight Bulbs

Headlight bulbs come in different types, each with its own characteristics, advantages, and limitations. Knowing the different types of headlight bulbs can help you choose the best option for your vehicle.

  • Halogen bulbs: These are the most common type of headlight bulbs. They have a tungsten filament that heats up and produces light when electricity passes through it. Halogen bulbs are affordable, widely available, and have a lifespan of about 1,000 hours. However, they are not energy-efficient and may produce a yellowish light.
  • Xenon bulbs: Also known as HID (high-intensity discharge) bulbs, these use a gas discharge to produce a bright white light. They are more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer. However, they are more expensive and may require a ballast to regulate the voltage. Some xenon bulbs may also produce a bluish or purplish glare that can be distracting to other drivers.
  • LED bulbs: These use light-emitting diodes to produce light. They are more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs and have a longer lifespan of up to 30,000 hours. They also produce a bright and focused light that can improve visibility. However, they are still more expensive than halogen bulbs and may not be compatible with some vehicles. They also require proper cooling to prevent overheating.

Are Wig Wag Headlights Illegal?

Now that we know the different types of headlight bulbs, let’s answer the question: are wig wag headlights illegal?

Wig wag headlights refer to a flashing pattern that alternates between the high and low beams of the headlights. This pattern is often used by emergency vehicles, such as police cars, to signal their presence on the road. While wig wag headlights are not illegal per se, they may still violate certain laws and regulations, depending on how they are used.

For example, in some states, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with flashing lights that are not related to a specific emergency or hazard. Moreover, some states prohibit the installation of aftermarket equipment that mimics emergency vehicle lighting, such as red and blue strobe lights or sirens. Violations of these laws can result in fines, penalties, and even arrest.

State Wig Wag Headlights Legal?
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes
Arizona No
Arkansas Yes
California No
Colorado No
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes
Florida No
Georgia No

It’s important to note that the legality of wig wag headlights can vary depending on the state and local laws. It’s best to consult your local DMV or law enforcement agency to make sure you are compliant with the applicable regulations.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wig Wag Headlights

Wig Wag headlights are popular modifications on emergency vehicles, such as police cars or ambulances. They alternate the lights between high and low beams, providing a more visible and attention-grabbing signal. However, civilian vehicles also use them for aesthetic reasons or to signal their presence on the road.

  • Advantages:
  • Increased visibility: Wig Wag headlights are more eye-catching than static headlights, making the driver more visible on the road.
  • Deterrent effect: The flashing lights can warn other drivers to slow down or avoid the vehicle, preventing accidents.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Some drivers install wig wag headlights to customize their cars or improve the look of their vehicles.
  • Easy installation: Wig wag headlights can be installed by the vehicle owner without professional help, making this a relatively cheap modification.
  • Disadvantages:
  • Illegal in some states: While wig wag headlights are legal in some states, they are considered illegal in others, and the laws can be quite strict. Therefore, it is important to check the local laws before installing them.
  • Distracting to other drivers: The flashing lights can be distracting to other drivers on the road, which can cause them to take their eyes off the road or lose focus.
  • Negative reaction from law enforcement: Wig wag headlights can attract unwanted attention from law enforcement, who might assume that the driver is an emergency vehicle trying to impersonate a police car or ambulance.
  • Concerns with warranty: Installing wig wag headlights may void the manufacturer’s warranty, so it is important to check the terms and conditions before modification.


Wig wag headlights have advantages and disadvantages that drivers should consider before installing them. While they offer increased visibility and an aesthetic appeal, they are illegal in some states, distracting to other drivers, and can void the manufacturer’s warranty. Therefore, it is important for drivers to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before making any modifications to their vehicles.

Advantages Disadvantages
Increased visibility Illegal in some states
Deterrent effect Distracting to other drivers
Aesthetic appeal Negative reaction from law enforcement
Easy installation Concerns with warranty

Table: Advantages and Disadvantages of Wig Wag Headlights

Installation Process for Wig Wag Headlights

Wig wag headlights are a popular addition to many vehicles. They provide an eye-catching flashing effect that can be seen from far distances. However, before installing wig wag headlights, it’s important to know the proper installation process to ensure they are installed correctly and safely. Here is a step-by-step guide for installing wig wag headlights:

  • Step 1: Turn off your vehicle and disconnect the battery. This is crucial to prevent electrical shocks and other accidents during installation.
  • Step 2: Locate the existing headlight wiring harness and unplug it from the headlight bulb.
  • Step 3: Connect the wig wag module to the wiring harness. Most wig wag kits come with a plug-and-play connection that makes the process easier and simpler.
  • Step 4: Connect the wig wag module to the headlight bulb. This can also be done with a plug-and-play connection.
  • Step 5: Attach the wig wag module to a solid surface, such as the engine compartment or the vehicle’s frame, using zip ties or screws.
  • Step 6: Test the wig wag headlights to make sure they are working correctly. Turn on your vehicle and check that the flashing effect is consistent and not flickering. If there are any issues, troubleshoot and fix them before using the wig wag headlights on the road.

It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when installing wig wag headlights. Incorrect installation can lead to malfunctioning lights, electrical problems, and potentially dangerous situations on the road.

Here is a table outlining the typical components included in a wig wag kit:

Component Description
Wig wag module The brain of the system that controls the flashing effect
Wiring harness Connects the wig wag module to the vehicle’s electrical system
Headlight bulbs The bulbs that will flash on and off
Zip ties/screws Used to attach the wig wag module to a solid surface

By following the installation process and using the information provided by the manufacturer, installing wig wag headlights can be a fairly simple and easy process. With the proper installation, you can enjoy an eye-catching and attention-grabbing addition to your vehicle.

Safety concerns with wig wag headlights

While wig wag headlights may seem like a fun addition to your vehicle, they present safety concerns that many drivers may not be aware of.

Here are five key safety concerns to consider:

  • They can be distracting to other drivers on the road, potentially causing accidents or near-misses.
  • They may impair the ability of other drivers to see and react to emergency vehicles with legitimate wig wag lighting.
  • They can be mistaken for emergency vehicles themselves, leading other drivers to speed up or drive erratically to get out of the way.
  • They may not be legal in some states or jurisdictions, creating potential legal issues for drivers who install them.
  • Finally, aftermarket wig wag headlights may not be manufacturer-rated for the vehicle, leading to operational safety concerns and potential damage to the vehicle’s electrical system.

It is important to weigh these safety concerns carefully before deciding to install wig wag headlights on your vehicle. While they may look cool, they could also pose a danger to you and other drivers on the road.

Alternatives to Wig Wag Headlights

While wig wag headlights are a popular option for emergency vehicles, they are illegal for use on regular cars. However, there are alternatives available that can provide similar benefits without breaking the law.

  • Flashing headlights: Flashing your headlights quickly can still attract attention and signal to others that you need to get through. However, it is important to note that some states have laws against this as well. Check your local laws before using this method.
  • LED strobe lights: LED strobe lights can be installed on the front of your car and used in emergency situations. These are legal to use as long as they are not red or blue, as those colors are designated for law enforcement.
  • Horn: Your car’s horn can be a powerful tool for getting through traffic. However, it is important to use it sparingly and only when necessary. Extensive use of your car’s horn can be seen as a form of aggressive driving.

When choosing an alternative to wig wag headlights, it is important to consider the situation you are in. While flashing your lights or using a horn can signal to others that you need to get through, it is important to use these methods responsibly and only in emergency situations.

If you are looking for a more permanent solution, LED strobe lights can be a great option. These lights can be installed on the front of your car and used for signaling in emergency situations. They are legal as long as they are not red or blue, so be sure to choose a color that will still attract attention without breaking the law.

Alternative Pros Cons
Flashing headlights Quick and easy to use. Can signal urgency. Illegal in some states. Can be seen as aggressive driving.
LED strobe lights Legal to use. Can be installed permanently for ease of use. Can be expensive to install. Only legal in certain colors.
Horn Can signal urgency. No additional installations or purchases necessary. Can be seen as aggressive driving. Should be used sparingly.

No matter which alternative you choose, it is important to use it responsibly and only in emergency situations. Avoid using your car’s signal to get through traffic when it is not an emergency, as this can be dangerous and illegal.

Current trends in automotive lighting technology.

Automobiles are evolving, so is their lighting system. Automakers are now incorporating advanced technology to make roads safer and improve drivers’ experiences at night. Here are some current trends in automotive lighting technology that are changing the game:

  • LED Lighting: Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is now a standard feature in modern cars. LED lights offer brighter light, have a longer lifespan, and consume less energy than traditional headlights. Furthermore, LED technology allows for variable light distribution and can be used to enhance exterior and interior designing.
  • Laser Lighting: Laser headlights are the new normal in modern luxury cars. Compared to LED headlights, laser lighting is brighter, more energy-efficient, and offers a more comprehensive coverage area. Laser beams are focused and can even be controlled to prevent glaring at upcoming vehicles.
  • Matrix Lighting: Matrix lighting technology uses individual LED lights that can be manipulated independently. This allows for better control over light distribution, and drivers have the ability to adjust the brightness according to their surroundings. Some cars equipped with Matrix lighting have adaptive Matrix lighting, which uses cameras and sensors to detect and adjust brightness for oncoming traffic.

Are Wig Wag Headlights Illegal?

Wig wag headlights or emergency response vehicles have been used in police cars, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles for better visibility over the years. They produce alternating patterns of flashing beams, alerting other drivers to their presence on the road. However, installing wig wag headlights, taillights, or emergency vehicle lighting onto a non-emergency vehicle is illegal in most states.

State Legal Status
California Illegal
Florida Illegal
New York Illegal
Texas Illegal

The primary reason behind this law is to avoid confusion among motorists and to prevent impersonation of emergency vehicles. Using these lights attracts unwanted attention and can land you in serious trouble with the law. However, some states allow wig wag headlights on private properties, provided they do not shine on public roads.

Are Wig Wag Headlights Illegal? FAQs

1. Why are wig wag headlights popular among drivers? Wig wag headlights are popular among drivers because of their flashy and attention-grabbing nature. They alternate the high beams of a vehicle, making it visible from a distance.

2. Are all wig wag headlights illegal? No, not all wig wag headlights are illegal. Some manufacturers produce wig wag headlights that conform to the Department of Transportation regulations and local traffic laws.

3. What makes a wig wag headlight illegal? A wig wag headlight becomes illegal when it is not DOT compliant, emits too bright a light, or is used inappropriately, like flashing it in the eyes of other drivers.

4. Is the use of wig wag headlights permitted in all states? No, the use of wig wag headlights is not permitted in all states. Some states ban the use of flashing lights, while others require the vehicle owners to seek permission from the authorities before installing wig wag headlights.

5. Are wig wag headlights dangerous? Wig wag headlights are not necessarily dangerous, but they can be if used carelessly. Flashing lights can cause epilepsy, distract drivers, or even lead to unintended consequences.

6. What are the consequences of driving with an illegal wig wag headlight? Driving with an illegal wig wag headlight can lead to fines, penalties, and confiscation of the vehicle. The severity of the punishment depends on the state’s traffic laws and the nature of the offense.

7. How can I know if my wig wag headlights are legal? By referring to the DOT regulations, local traffic laws, and consulting with a certified mechanic, you can know if your wig wag headlights are legal.


Thanks for reading our article on “are wig wag headlights illegal.” We hope we’ve been able to provide helpful insights into this topic. Remember, it is essential to comply with traffic laws and safety guidelines to avoid penalties and stay safe on the road. Visit our website for more information on automotive and transportation-related topics.