Mr. Lawrence Rucker
3924 O'Bannon Drive, Apt. A
Jackson, Mississippi 39213

Dear Mr. Rucker:

This is in reply to your recent undated letter that arrived in this office on May 5. You write requesting a manufacturer identification number for your "new style of high-mounted brake lights." You have been told "that everything seems to be within the federal code of 108."

This refers to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment.

My letter is based on the assumption that you intend these lamps to replace the center high-mounted stop lamp rather than to be mounted as pairs to supplement a vehicle's two lower-mounted stop lamps. As you say, your stop lamps are unique because of their design and shape, to judge by the dollar sign and cocktail glass drawings that you enclosed. As replacement equipment, your lamps would have to meet the appropriate requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 and be certified as meeting them.

Standard No. 108 does not specify permissible shapes for the center stop lamp but it does require the lamp to comply with minimum and maximum photometric (light output) values measured at certain identified test points, as set out in Table 10 of the standard. The test points are, in essence, a grid and control to some extent the design of the lamp. For example, it appears to us unlikely that stylized lamps such as yours can meet the requirements of Table 10, or the requirement that the effective projected luminous area not be less than 4 square inches. If you intend the lamp to be located on the parcel shelf, it will have to conform when photometered through the rear glass and at the orientation in which it is installed, and minimize reflections from the light on the rear window that might be visible in the rear view mirror to the driver.

You may obtain a copy of Standard No. 108 and the agency's other regulations by placing an order with the U.S. Government Printing Office, whose telephone number is (202) 512-0133. The volume is "Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 400-999." You will find Standard No. 108 at Section 571.108. The portions that apply to center high-mounted stop lamps are paragraphs S3, S5.1.1.27, S5.3.1.8, and S5.4, Tables III and IV, and Figure 10 (photometrics).

If any lamp design does not conform, it cannot be manufactured and sold as replacement equipment without violating Title 49, United States Code, Section 30112(a). A civil penalty of up to $1,100 may be imposed for each lamp sold, up to a maximum of $880,000.

However, Standard No. 108 does not apply to center stop lamps sold for use on vehicles that were never required by Standard No. 108 to have them in the first place. The center lamp has been required on passenger cars manufactured beginning September 1, 1985, and on light trucks and vans manufactured beginning September 1, 1993. Thus you would not be in violation of Federal law by selling your lamps as presently designed, for use on vehicles produced before these dates. However, they might not be allowed under the laws of Mississippi or other states where you may want to sell them. We aren't conversant with local laws and suggest you ask the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state for advice.

We have no "manufacturer identification number" for producers of lighting equipment, but we do require manufacturers of replacement lighting equipment to file a simple identification statement with us not later than 30 days after beginning manufacture of their products. This regulation is known as 49 CFR Part 566, and can be found in the same volume as Standard No. 108, reference above..

If you have further questions, you may call Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).

John Womack
Acting Chief Counsel