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If My Car Doesn’t Have Two Working Headlights, Can I Go to Jail?


To see clearly while driving at night, you must have working headlights on your vehicle. Without lights, you might not be able to spot pedestrians, other cars, or unexpected hazards. This can result in an accident that causes property damage, bodily injury, or even death. Although you might be able to see the road with only one working headlight, if you drive like that, you could be pulled over and cited. However, you won’t go to jail.

What’s Ohio’s Headlight Law?

According to ORC 4513.04, every vehicle that operates on public roads must have two working headlights on the front sides. However, if you are riding a motorcycle, you only need to have one headlight, but you can’t have more than two.

When Do Headlights Need to Be On?

Although you must use your headlights at night, there are various other times that they need to be on while driving.

Under ORC 4513.03, drivers must have their headlights on:

  • From sunset to sunrise
  • When there is insufficient natural light
  • When unfavorable atmospheric conditions make it difficult to see objects on the road
  • When windshield wipers are on while it’s raining

Getting Pulled Over for a Violation

If you’re driving around in a vehicle that has only one working headlight, chances are an officer will stop you. This applies even if you are driving your car with two working parking lights illuminating the road. You can receive a citation for violating the law.

The only time an officer wouldn’t be able to pull you over for a headlight violation is when it is raining and your windshield wipers are on. This is what is known as a secondary offense. You could only be cited for this violation if you are stopped for some other traffic offense, such as failing to stop when a traffic signal is red.

Driving without two working headlights is a minor misdemeanor. There is no jail time for this level of offense; however, you may face a fine of up to $150.

For Aggressive Defense, Contact Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC

If you’ve been cited for a traffic offense in Union County, allow our skilled team to provide the representation you need to fight the ticket. Although these cases might seem minor, they could result in driver’s license suspension or increased insurance rates.

Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys by calling us at (937) 403-9033 or contacting us online.