Ask A Trooper: High-intensity headlights are legal to use

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, March 11, 2020

By Troy Christianson

Question:  Are the blue or xenon headlamps legal in Minnesota?

Answer:  Xenon or (HID) high-intensity discharge headlights are legal if they comply with the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requirements as halogen and incandescent headlamps.

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Minnesota Statutes Chapter 169.468 requires the Commissioner to adopt vehicle safety rules in substantial conformance with federal motor vehicle safety standards for any new vehicle, or for any new item of motor vehicle equipment.  These standards are contained in 49 CFR Part 571.

If the vehicle has not been altered since the time of purchase from a dealer, it is almost certain that the lights are legal, as the manufacturer and dealer would need to follow federal guidelines above.

The aftermarket use of Xenon lights may pose a more difficult problem.  Most aftermarket systems are in compliance with SAE and federal standards, however, some “look- alike” systems are not.  The vehicle lighting system in question would need to be inspected by a reputable mechanic.  The bulbs should contain the proper markings to permit the lighting device to be traced back to the appropriate SAE standard.  If they are not in compliance, a citation may be issued.

If someone wants to convert their vehicle to Xenon HID they must purchase new Xenon HID headlamps. HIDs installed in headlight systems designed for halogen lights produce substantially different beam patterns.

It is an important time of year to remind motorists that the law states that you must turn on your headlights during harsh weather, rain, snow, fog or anytime there is low visibility. This will help ensure that other motorists can see you.  Do not to rely on your day time running lights alone as your tail lights will not be working, thus making your vehicle difficult to see.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,