Equipment and Standards Review Unit
Washington State Patrol
P.O. Box 42635
Olympia, Washington 98504-2635
Dear Ms. Morton:
We have received your letter of January 31, 1996, expressing your understanding that States "can allow the use" of daytime running lamps (DRLs), but cannot require them to be on vehicles. You ask for information on this subject.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment (49 CFR 571.108) permits, but does not require, motor vehicles to be equipped with DRLs (see paragraph S5.5.11). The effect of the preemptive provisions of Title 49 United States Code section 30103(b)(1) is that when a Federal DRL standard is in effect, a State is permitted to have a DRL standard only if it is identical to the Federal one. Thus, a State may not require that vehicles within its jurisdiction have DRLs, nor can it forbid them. States must allow DRLs.
There is one exception to this. Under Section 30103(b)(1), a State may prescribe "a standard for a motor vehicle . . . obtained for its own use that imposes a higher performance requirement than that required" by a Federal safety standard. We interpret this as allowing a State to require State-owned vehicles to be equipped with DRLs.
If you have further questions on this topic, you may discuss them with Taylor Vinson, with whom you have talked previously. Our number is 202-366-5263.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel ref:108#SEC.30103(b) ref:3/14/96