762 S. Rampart St.
New Orleans, LA 70113
Dear Mr. Angrisano:
On August 29, 1996, we responded to your letter which we received on August 14, 1996, with respect to whether it is permissible to alter daytime running lamps without violating a Federal regulation. I would now like to clarify a statement in that letter.
You asked for confirmation that "no installer or individual who disconnects or alters existing Daytime Running Lights on a 1997 vehicle is in violation of any federal law. Alteration of Daytime Running lights is completely legal at the owners discretion."
We confirmed your statement, and replied that, while Standard No. 108 contains specifications for daytime running lamps (DRLs), it does not require manufacturers to provide them. Although there is a statutory prohibition (Title 49, United States Code Sec. 30122) that manufacturers, distributors, dealers and motor vehicle repair businesses may not make inoperative any device or element of design installed in accordance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard, this prohibition does not apply to DRLs because a motor vehicle need not be equipped with DRLs in order to comply with Standard No. 108.
Although a manufacturer is not required to provide DRLs, Standard No. 108 specifies performance requirements that DRLs must meet if a vehicle is equipped with them. The clarification I wish to provide is that manufacturers, distributors, dealers and motor vehicle repair businesses, while free to disconnect DRLs or provide on-off switches, may not alter the performance specifications of DRLs in a manner that would make them not comply with the performance requirements specified for DRLs in the standard. The specified performance requirements exist specifically to prevent impairment of the performance of other lighting equipment, such as turn signals, from performing the function for which they are intended, or impairment of rearview mirrors through the creation of glare. We would regard these
circumstances as a "making inoperative" within the meaning of the statutory phrase. If a dealer or distributor performed such a modification before the initial sale of a vehicle, we could view this as a noncompliance with Paragraph S5.1.3 of Standard No. 108.
If you have any further questions, you may call Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Acting Chief Counsel