When Can You Drive Using Only Your Parking Lights?

When Can You Drive Using Only Your Parking Lights

Parking lights are important to ensure that a vehicle is visible to other vehicle drivers at night, in a tunnel, or in other dark areas.

Unlike other lights on the vehicle, there are a few restrictions to the usage of parking lights depending on the state. Therefore, it is important to know when one can drive using the parking lights. When can you drive using only your parking light?

Parking lights shouldn’t be used when driving if no other lights are on because you shouldn’t;t replace the headlight with a parking light. Therefore not under any circumstances should you drive using only your parking light except if there’s an emergency and the headlight is not working.

What is a Parking Light?

A parking light also known as ‘Side Light’, or ‘Position Light’ is used to make your vehicle visible when parked especially at night.

It is usually located close to the outer edge or inner edge of the headlight in front of the vehicle although it can also be present at the rear or side of a vehicle.

The placement of the parking light may vary from vehicle to vehicle depending on the model and type. In some vehicles, it can be found in some other light units but still in front of the vehicle. Not sure about the location of your parking light? Check the owner’s manual.

On the dashboard, you can also check for the parking light symbol by looking for ‘two half circles facing away from one another also with slanted lines (three) coming from each side.

The sole purpose of the parking light on a vehicle is to provide light sufficient to make the vehicle seen by others when it is parked and it is most often amber or white in color.

Are Parking Lights Same as Running Lights?

Parking lights and running lights are not the same in many ways, well they have something in common which is being located in front of the vehicle and enhancing its visibility.

To further explain the dissimilarity between parking lights and running lights we should consider their various meaning.

A parking light has been established to be the light located in front of a vehicle to ensure its visibility when it is parked at night.

Although it can ensure a vehicle’s visibility at night it is not bright enough for driving at night, this is because they are not designed for this purpose.

The running light also known as ‘Daytime Running Light’ on the other hand is located on the front end of the vehicle and automatically comes on when the vehicle is started.

Once this happens, the light doesn’t go off but stays on for as long as the vehicle is running. Running lights are not as bright as high beams or headlights.

Turning off the running light is possible for vehicles that have the on/off features, the other option will be when the fog lights or headlights are on.

Running lights are considered a much better option for visibility than the parking lights plus you can drive with them on in daylight without the fear of getting pulled over.

Although running light is considered brighter and better for visibility at night, it may not be much help when it’s snowing heavily and foggy.

When Can You Drive Using Only Your Parking Lights?

For those preparing for their DMV written text, the answer to when can you drive using only your parking lights is not under any circumstances.

Here are some instances where you can drive using only your parking lights

If it’s a Drunken Mistake

When some people get drunk, they get out of their senses, hence why they shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheels of a vehicle.

A drunk person behind the wheel will not know if it’s the headlight on or the parking light therefore will proceed to drive and continue driving the vehicle with the parking light instead of the headlight.

This will be a double offense in some states, driving while drunk and driving with your parking light on. You shouldn’t drink and drive.

The State Law Allows It

For some states, it is not illegal to drive using only your parking lights although there may be a few clauses to do so. Due to the danger of driving only with your parking light, only a few states allow it.

Other Lights are Bad

Driving using only the parking lights is also possible if the other lights are bad. If the other lights on the car are not on in good condition, the parking light can come in handy to help illuminate the area or road ahead while ensuring the vehicle’s visibility.

Broad Daylight

Except the state is against it, you can also drive using only the parking light in broad daylight if you wish to do so. In broad daylight, your car is clearly seen by oncoming vehicles and passersby therefore there is no risk of danger.

In Case of an Emergency

In a situation where there is an emergency and the other lights are broken or not working, you can also drive using only the parking light.

You can rest assured you won’t be getting in any trouble with the authorities provided it is a clear situation of an emergency.

Few Minutes After Sunset and Before Sunrise

You can also drive using only the parking lights a few minutes (25-30 mins) after sunset and before sunrise in some states. Few minutes after sunset because there will still be traces of natural light before sunrise.

Bear in mind that it is illegal in some states to drive using only the parking lights, to drive with a parking light in these states you must have the headlights on.

Is it Illegal to Drive with Parking Lights in Texas?

It is not illegal to drive with the parking lights on in Texas. According to the law, there is a minimum standard for all lights on a vehicle, the parking light inclusive.

It is legal to drive with the parking light on in Texas provided it is not when other lights like the headlight should be in use.

You shouldn’t replace a headlight with a parking light in use except when necessary and required. The parking light should be used when you should be using the headlight.


To avoid trouble with law enforcement officials it is better to know what the law says about driving with the parking light on.

You should also bear in mind that you are not only ensuring your visibility to other drivers when you turn on the parking light you are also ensuring your safety when in a dark place.