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Christmas time is here, and ‘tis the season to be festive. This means hanging up Christmas lights on your house, buying a tree, and getting that holiday shopping done. But what if you want to be festive on the way to the mall? Is it legal to hang Christmas lights in your car?

Hanging Christmas lights in your car

A Mini Cooper covered in Christmas lights.
A Mini Cooper covered in Christmas lights. | Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images

While there aren’t any hard-and-fast laws about hanging Christmas lights in your car, it is illegal to impede your visibility while driving and/or distract other drivers in most states. As you can guess, this rule applies to hanging lights in your car as well.

ABC 7, a news station in Denver, reported that “there is no specific statute that covers Christmas or holiday lights; there are several statutes that do restrict what types and kinds of lights can be outside or inside a vehicle.”

The news outlet interviewed a police officer who stated, “if you have anything on or in your vehicle that can be deemed distracting or be misinterpreted as being a turn signal or brake lights or backup lights, that would be a concern for us.”

Essentially, safety is key when it comes to whether or not you can hang lights in your car. Can you get pulled over for them? Yes. However, it’s typically on a case-by-case basis, which could result in a warning or a possible fine.

Christmas lights can cause distracted driving

Whether you plan to hang lights inside or outside your car, the possibility of distracting other drivers is a huge concern. CleanTechnica reported that 3,477 people were killed in accidents in 2015 due to distracted driving alone. So eliminating distractions for yourself or other drivers this season by not hanging up lights could eventually save lives.

There are other Christmas decorations you can use aside from lights

An old classic car covered in Christmas lights.
An old classic car covered in Christmas lights. | Getty Images

If you really want to spruce up the look of your car this Christmas season, there are other ways to do it. Instead of stringing Christmas lights in or around your car, you can always head to your local auto parts store to see what they have in stock.

Most road-legal Christmas decorations include reindeer car antlers that attach to your car’s roof, a light-up Christmas wreath that can attach to the front grille or other non-light-up decorations that can be securely affixed to the car’s body.

Sure, these solutions may seem boring in comparison to having a huge light-up display on your car to show everyone around you that you have the holly jolly spirit. However, they are legal and will keep you from trouble with the law. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about getting fined for showing off your Christmas spirit.

If anything, at least the U.S. doesn’t enact laws like in the U.K., where you could be fined up to $1,000 and receive a driving ban from the court. Now that’s harsh! And it’s definitely not within the spirit of the season.


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