Virginia Headlight Laws

Virgina law requires every motor vehicle to have working headlights.

Headlights are an essential component to every car. Not only do they allow drivers to see where they are going, headlights also allow vehicles to be visible to other drivers when it’s dark outside or when the weather is poor. Headlights are required on every motor vehicle in Virginia and the commonwealth has several laws related to headlight use.


Virginia law requires that every motor vehicle operating on public roadways have operating headlights. Cars need to have at least two headlights operational, one on the left side and one on the right, but no more than four headlights per vehicle. Motorcycles must have at least one operational headlight, but no more than two.

Nighttime Use

As soon as the sun begins to set and the sunlight fades, you must turn on your headlights and they must remain in use from sunset to sunrise. Use low-beam headlights when driving in cities and towns, unless you are driving on a street where there are no lights, then use high-beams, returning to low-beams if a vehicle approaches in the opposite direction or if you are following within 200 feet of another vehicle.

Use high-beam headlights when driving on highways. Switch to low-beams if there is an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet or if you are following within 200 feet of another vehicle.

Inclement Weather

Drivers are required to use headlights when driving in rain, snow, sleet or fog if visibility is reduced to 500 feet. If you need to use your windshield wipers, you need to turn on your headlights. Use low-beam headlights in fog, snow, sleet or rain.

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All motorcycles must have a headlight that will allow them to be seen by other vehicles within 200 feet of the motorcycle. The headlight cannot be so powerful as to cause glare or light so brilliant as to distract other drivers. Motorcyclists may have headlights that can modulate between low and high beams at a rate of 200 to 280 flashes per minute.

Motorcyclists must use headlights when cars are required to use them, from sunset to sunrise, during inclement weather or when visibility is reduced to 500 feet.