Is it Illegal to Drive with a Broken Tail Light?

A Broken Tail Light

We’ve probably all been there at some point. You are driving along, minding your business, and you see flashing red lights behind you. You may consider what you have done wrong to get pulled over, speeding, no traffic signal, or more.

What if you have a broken tail light? This issue may be enough reason for cops to pull you over and issue you a fine. The answer isn’t always black-and-white, as some research shows that even if it is broken but taped back together and emitting a red glow, you are safe from getting a fine.

Red Vs. White Light on Tail Lights

One of the single most essential protections from rear-end collisions is to have operational tail lights. If you have a broken tail light, there is a chance that the light reflecting is now more white than red. If you can use something to tape the cover back together accurately so that the red light is emitting, this may be enough to suffice until you can get it fixed.

If primarily white or all white is showing through the broken cover, you may subject yourself to getting pulled over or fined. The reason for this is that the red indicates that you are stopping, while if only white is showing, others behind you may not realize that you are braking, and therefore, you are a hazard to others on the road.

Other Hazards of Broken Tail Lights

Another safety concern with a broken tail light can be that if water gets into the fixture due to the fractured cover, this can cause a short. A short in your car’s system could lead to other operational malfunctions, which can be a safety concern.

It’s also important to note that if the cover is broken and pieces are coming loose from your car while you are driving and hitting windshields behind you, this could be a safety concern and cause others to become distracted and cause an accident.

Due to these reasons, and the red light not being omitted as efficiently, you may be pulled over and asked to fix the tail lights.

2016 Colorado Revised Statutes

According to chapter 42 of the 2016 Colorado Revised Statutes that cover Vehicles and Traffic Regulations, including tail lamps and 42-4-206 tail lamps and reflectors:

“Every motor vehicle, trailer, semi-trailer, pole trailer and any other vehicle which is being drawn at the end of a train of vehicles shall be equipped with at least one tail lamp mounted on the rear…shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear.”

Again, the red light emitting and plainly visible is the most important part of the sentence, meaning that a white light emitting may mean you get pulled over.

A Temporary Solution

If you can’t get to the body shop immediately and need a temporary fix, you have a few options to consider. If the crack isn’t large, you may be able to use craft glue to ensure the cover is intact.

You may want to purchase lens repair tape if the crack is larger. Clean the area, let it dry, and apply the tape matching the size of the crack in the cover. It’s important to note that you should smooth out any bubbles as this could interfere with the red light emitting properly through the tape.

You may also be able to remove and replace the cover yourself with a kit you can find online. Each car is different, so search your make and model and see what options are available. The process can be relatively simple with a few tools, sometimes provided in the repair kit.

Safety First

Most or all regulations are in place to maintain safety for all. Without proper tail lights, you can pose a risk to other drivers, not to mention yourself, from others colliding with you.

Whether a temporary or permanent fix, it’s important to have functioning tail lights. You may subject yourself to the risk of getting pulled over, which is unnecessary for such a minor issue.

As personal injury attorneys, we often help clients who have been the victims of car accidents. Don’t let a small issue become a more significant problem and subject yourself to a personal injury case because your tail light wasn’t functional.

Contact our office today at (720) 707-0870 with any questions. We offer a free initial consultation in which we can discuss what options you have.

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