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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 19. Public Safety
Agency 30. Department of State Police
Chapter 70. Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Regulations

19VAC30-70-140. Headlamps; except motorcycles.

A. Inspect for and reject if:

1. Any motor vehicle is not equipped with at least two headlamps of an approved type. An approved headlamp assembly that contains bulbs for both the high and low beams within the same housing shall be considered one headlamp. The headlamps must be marked with the headlamp manufacturer's name or trademark, and DOT. If the headlamp bulbs are replaceable, the headlamp lens must be marked with the headlamp light source type (bulb) for which it was designed and the bulb must match the lens code.

NOTE: If the headlamp system is stamped to accept halogen bulbs, then the replacement bulbs must be halogen as well. Retrofitting an HID or LED bulb to a halogen headlamp system does not conform to the standards set forth by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and shall be rejected.

If the entire headlamp assembly is changed from a halogen system to an LED system and does not require the manufacture's original wiring to be cut or compromised, then it shall be considered for inspection if it meets the requirements of subdivision A 2 of this section.

2. Headlights are not of the same approved type (Halogen, HID, LED, etc.) except for sealed beam headlamps, or the replacement headlamp system does not contain all properly marked DOT and SAE stamps certifying that it has met and complied with the standards set forth by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108.

NOTE: Replacement headlamps stamped with a DOT or SAE approval and marked with the headlamp manufacturer's name or trademark shall be considered approved by the Superintendent of State Police and will not be required to be listed on the Virginia Motor Vehicle Approved Equipment List.

3. In any headlamp the lens is cracked, broken, discolored, or rotated away from the proper position, or the reflector is not clean and bright.

4. Moisture or water buildup in headlamp is such that it affects the aiming pattern.

5. Headlamps emit light other than white. Light tints of color may be acceptable if the headlamp and headlamp bulbs are marked as required.

6. Bulbs are not of an approved type and marked with all of the following: light source type, the manufacturer's name or trade mark, and DOT.


Approved headlamp bulbs: HB1, HB2, HB3, HB3A, HB4, HB4A, HB5, H1, H3, H7, H8, H8B, H9, H9B, H9C, H11, H11B, H11C, H13, H13C, H15, HIR1, HIR2, H18, H19.

Approved headlamp bulbs that require ballast: 9500, D1R, D1S, D2R, D2S, D3R, D3S, D4R, D4S, D5S, D7S, D8S, D9S.

Approved headlamp ballasts must be marked with the light source type (bulb) and DOT. The bulb type marked on the ballast must match the marking on the headlamp lens.

7. Any filament or bulb in headlamps fails to burn properly or headlamps are not at the same location or configuration as designed by manufacturer. (Location and type of headlamps can be found in subsection E of this section.)

8. Wiring is dangling or connections are loose, or if proper filaments do not burn at different switch positions; or if switches, including foot or hand dimmer, do not function properly and are not convenient to the driver.

9. Foreign material is placed on or in front of the headlamp lens or interferes with the beam from the lamp. No glazing may be placed over or in front of the headlamps unless it is a part of an approved headlamp assembly.

a. Reject if vehicle has wire, unapproved lens or plastic covers, any other materials that are not original equipment or any colored material placed on or in front of the headlamps.

b. Vehicles registered as street rods may have clear, rigid plastic or glass headlamp lens covers in front of sealed beam units to replace original manufacturer's equipment.

EXCEPTION: A clean impact film known as Headlight Savers produced by Grand Prix Motoring Accessories may be applied to the headlight lens to absorb impact of rocks, etc.

10. Lamps can be moved easily by hand due to a broken fender or loose support, or if a good ground is not made by the mounting.

11. Headlamps, auxiliary driving lamps and front fog lamps are not mounted so that the beams are aimable and the mounting does not prevent the aim of the lighting device from being disturbed while the vehicle is operating on public roads. All lamps shall be securely mounted on a rigid part of the vehicle.

12. A headlamp visor is over two inches long unless part of the original body design.

13. The high beam indicator in the driver's compartment does not burn when the high beam is on or does not go off when the low beam is on. (Vehicles not originally equipped with an indicator are not required to comply unless sealed beam headlamps have been installed.)

B. Aiming the headlamps.

1. Inspectors shall rely on their education, training, and experience to determine if the headlamps are properly aimed. If improper alignment is observed, headlamps shall be checked for proper aim by using an optical headlamp aimer, except on vehicles equipped with on-board aimers.

Headlamp aim on vehicles with on-board aimers shall be checked by visually examining the leveling device mounted either on or adjacent to the headlamp. Reject the vehicle if the leveling device shows the headlamp adjustment to exceed indicated specifications.

NOTE: Driving lamp and fog lamps must be visually inspected to ensure proper aiming. If improper alignment is observed, the optical aimer shall be used to correct any misalignment.

2. Headlamps are not aimed within the following tolerances using the optical aimer.

a. The center of the hot spot of all single element high beam lamps is set more than four inches up or down from the horizontal centerline or more than four inches to the left or right from the vertical centerline.

b. The left edge of the lamp pattern of any low beam lamp or any combination or multi-element lamp is more than four inches to the left or right of the vertical centerline or the top edge of the lamp pattern is more than four inches above or below the horizontal centerline when checked on low beam.

C. Optical aimer.

1. Optical aimers must be properly calibrated and used in the manner recommended by the manufacturer.

The optical headlamp machine must be aligned to the vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.

2. When aiming headlamps, first look for the type of lamp, which will be found embossed on the lens. The type determines which aiming requirements must be followed for the optical aimer.

3. All low beam or combination/multi-element headlamps must be set by aiming the lamp pattern with the lamps set on low beam.

NOTE: If attempting to align a composite or sealed beam lamp with a high and low beam within the same housing, align only the low beam. If aligning a four-lamp system with high and low beams in separate housings, it may be necessary to cover the low beam while aligning the high beam, if all four lamps are on at the same time.

4. Pattern should be aimed so that the left edge does not extend to the left or right of straight ahead, and the top of the pattern should be even with the horizontal.

Pattern "A" represents the light pattern as it should appear on the view screen of the approved aimer when checking the low-beam pattern on a single element headlamp or a combination multi-element headlamp.

5. All VOL and VOR headlamps will be aimed as follows:

To properly aim a combination multi-element or low-beam VOL or VOR headlamp assembly, the headlamp pattern should be aimed on low beam only.

Letters marked on the headlamp cover should properly identify VOL and VOR headlamps.

NOTE: VOL and VOR headlamps will normally have only one adjustment, which will be for the vertical aim only. The horizontal aim should be disregarded, as the horizontal aim is preset at the factory.

6. All single element high beam headlamps shall be set by aiming the center of the hot spot with the lamps set on high beam.

7. Aim straight ahead-center of the hot spot should be centered with the vertical and horizontal centerlines.

Pattern "B" represents the light pattern as it should appear on the view screen of the approved aimers.

8. When lamp pairs are mounted horizontally, the low beam lamp must be on the outer side and when mounted vertically, the low beam lamp must be at the higher position in the pair.

9. The four headlamp system must be wired so that only the lower beam lamp will burn when the light beams are depressed. When switched to high beams, both high beam and low beam may burn.

The "F" type halogen headlamp 1986 (LF-UF) of the four headlamp system will function in the following manner: system must be used so the low beam does not burn with the high beam.

D. Headlamps on vehicles used for snow removal. Approved auxiliary headlamps may be mounted above the conventional headlamps. (These lamps must be in compliance with this section in its entirety, subdivision 7 of 19VAC30-70-150, and 19VAC30-70-170.)

E. Inspect for and reject if:

1. Lamps are not an approved type as previously indicated in subdivision A 6 of this section.

2. Lamps are not mounted in a manner that will permit proper aiming.

3. Lamps are mounted so as to obstruct the driver's vision.

4. The auxiliary headlamp circuit does not contain a switch that will deactivate the primary headlamp system when the auxiliary headlamps are in use.

5. Auxiliary headlamps are not aimed in accordance with the provisions of subdivision B 2 of this section.

6. Headlamps are not wired in accordance with the provisions of subdivision C 8 of this section.

NOTE: Light patterns shown in the following diagram will be displayed on the most recently approved light machines produced by Hopkins and Symtech Corporations.


NOTE: Always inspect the following sealed beam and replaceable bulb and integral beam headlamps on LOW BEAM only:

- 5-3/4 inch, marked 2, 2C, or 2C1

- 7 inch, marked 2, 2D, or 2D1

- 100 X 165mm rectangular, marked 2A, 2A1, or 2E1, 2G1 or 2H1

- 200 X 142mm rectangular, marked 2B or 2B1

- Replaceable bulb headlamp, marked LF with 9004 (HB1)

- 92 X 160mm rectangular, marked LF

- Replaceable bulb headlamps with 9006 (HB4) alone or in combination with 9005 (HB3)

- 55 X 135mm rectangular, marked L

- Integral beam headlamp when high and low beam reflectors move together.

Statutory Authority

§ 46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 14, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 12, Issue 21, eff. August 7, 1996; Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012; Volume 32, Issue 24, eff. October 3, 2016; Errata, 32:26 VA.R. 3588 August 22, 2016; amended, Virginia Register Volume 35, Issue 25, eff. September 1, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 25, eff. September 4, 2020.

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