Are my additional
driving lights legal?
To keep your vehicle on the right side of the law, position your
additional driving lights according to the most recent laws in your
state or territory. (Image credit: Ironman 4x4)
So, you’re not quite sure whether your off-roader’s
additional driving-lights set-up is legal in your state or
territory? Or if you’re legal when driving that same vehicle into
another state or territory?
Well, join the long queue of those who suffer all-pervasive
confusion over light laws because it includes every vehicle owner in
Australia, every over-worked police officer trying to enforce the
appropriate laws, and every government pen-pusher who alters
legislation seemingly every few minutes*. (* A slight exaggeration,
but the standards have actually been amended six times between
August 2007 and November 2017.)
For the purpose of this yarn, when we refer to "additional driving
lights" we're talking about to forward-mounted fixed driving lights,
including LED light bars.
Here’s our guide to legal light set-ups but, be aware, the laws
differ from state to state/territory, they do change and some are
open to interpretation, so you’ll need to drive around with your
local magistrate on-board just to avoid a fine. Only joking! (Or am
I?) Just make sure you stay up to date with the state/territory in
which you drive.
The light laws explained
First up, vehicles in Australia must comply with Australian Design
Rules (ADRs), which are “national standards for vehicle safety,
anti-theft and emissions”, according to the federal government. “The
ADRs are generally performance based and cover issues such as
occupant protection, structures, lighting, noise, engine exhaust
emissions, braking and a range of miscellaneous items.”
According to official speak, ADR 13/00 refers to “Installation of
Lighting and Light Signalling Devices on other than L-Group Vehicles
2005”. (L-Group vehicles are two- or three-wheeled vehicles and
include mopeds, motorcycles, motorcycles with a sidecar and motor
With regards to laws about additional driving lights, surprisingly,
the ACT government nails down a pretty good summation of the rules
as they generally apply nationwide at time of writing (late November
“The ADR now aligns the vehicle safety standards to the
international standards of a maximum of four additional lamps,
removing the former requirements of lights in pairs of two or four.
“These changes also allow for single driving lamps to be fitted.
“An LED light bar is considered to be one lamp if all of the LEDs
operate together. If an LED has different parts or sections that can
be switched on or off independent of other parts (sometimes referred
to as being switchable) then each independently controlled section
counts as a lamp.”
The additional driving lights on this vehicle would be considered a
protrusion and an injury threat to pedestrians.
Lights must not be fitted in a manner that they might be considered
a dangerous protrusion (i.e. on top of a bull bar). Other
requirements for fitting and using driving lamps and LED light bars
“The lamp/s must be fitted to the front of the vehicle,
symmetrically about the centre;
The lamp/s must be installed in a way that the light produced does
not cause the driver of the vehicle discomfort either directly or by
reflection from body or bull bars and ladder racks or mirror
The lamp/s must only come on when the main-beam (high beam)
headlamps are used, and must automatically turn off when the
main-beam headlamps are turned off;
No more than four driving lamps may be fitted to a vehicle;
All driving lamps must not interfere with the driver’s field of
All forward-mounted fixed additional lights will be considered
light laws state by state/territory
This image illustrates the positions of additional driving lights
that are considered either legal or illegal, depending on the state
or territory in which you're driving.
To check which locations on your vehicle are legal or illegal for
fitment of additional lights in your state/territory, read the info
below and check against the diagram, above.
Australian Capital Territory: Placing additional
forward-facing driving lights which do not protrude upwards or
outwards from your bullbar (1) is legal, but something which
protrudes from the top of the bullbar (2) is not legal, nor are
lights positioned on the roof or roof rack (3), or on a sports bar
if you're driving a ute (4).
New South Wales: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 is legal but we've
not yet received a definitive official answer as to whether 4 is
legal or not. (If you reckon you know, tell us in the comments
Northern Territory: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 and 4 are legal.
Queensland: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 is legal but 4 is not.
South Australia: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 and 4 are legal.
Tasmania: 1 is legal but 2, 3 and 4 are not.
Victoria: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 and 4 depend on how bad a
day your attending police officer is having. He/she may decide the
light's position means it is causing the driver discomfort either
directly or by reflection from body or bull bars and ladder racks or
Western Australia: 1 is legal, 2 is not; 3 and 4 are legal.
Clear as mud? For a bit more light reading (dad joke!), check out
these links to specific state/territory guidelines:
New South Wales: Legislation.nsw.gov
Northern Territory: NT.gov
South Australia: SA.gov
Western Australia: Transport.wa.gov
Keep in mind that standard regulations and laws differ from state to
state and territory in Australia and, as mentioned, are subject to
amendment, so make sure you are up to date with the laws as they
apply to the state/territory in which you reside.
If you're planning to fit additional/aftermarket driving lights to
your vehicle, or have them fitted, read through the ADR 13/00
light-installation guidelines and call the authorities to ask for
guidance before you start.