Is it illegal to paint my car's corner lights a different color?

Our legal expert weighs in
by Robby Consunji | Mar 7, 2017

Hi sir, I just wanted to ask if legal or illegal ba sa LTO laws natin kung kukulayan ko ang corner lights ko? Gusto ko sanang gawin light green instead of orange or clear. Thank you.


Hi, Allan. Yes, it is illegal to paint the car’s corner lights in light green instead of orange or clear white.

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The rule mandating the color of a car’s front and rear lights and prohibiting the use of other colored lights is found in the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, Republic Act No. 4136 (1964), the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. The Philippines is a contracting party to these conventions. As a result, these international conventions form part of Philippine law. 

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The Land Transportation and Traffic Code essentially provides that every motor vehicle while in use on any public highway shall bear two headlights, one on each side, with white or yellowish light visible from the front.

The Code further provides that every motor vehicle shall “also bear on each side in the rear a lamp showing a red light visible at least one hundred meters from the rear of the vehicle and a lamp throwing a white light upon the number plate issued for such vehicle…Every motor vehicle shall be equipped at the rear…which shall throw a sustained bright red light visible under all conditions, even under bright sunlight, when the brakes are applied.”

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The Code clearly states: “Additional lamps and light may be carried, but no red lights shall be visible forward or ahead of the vehicle…All motor vehicles shall be equipped with devices for varying the intensity of light, and the driver must dim the headlights or tilt the beams downward whenever the vehicle is being operated on well-lighted streets within the limits of cities, municipalities, and thickly populated barrios or districts, or whenever such vehicle meets another vehicle on any public highway.”

Under the Land Transportation Commission (now the LTO) Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1973, the following shall be installed in every motor vehicle: 1) signal lights for making left and right turns; 2) amber (yellow) or white flashers installed in front and red flashers installed in the rear of motor vehicles to warn other motorists and pedestrians in case of emergency; 3) white-colored headlights in front of motor vehicles; 4) red, yellow and/or orange taillights at the rear of motor vehicles; and, 5) no red lights shall be visible forward or ahead of the motor vehicle.

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This Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1973, prohibits domelights, police and emergency lights, and emergency red blinkers, and other similar signaling or flashing devices that actually impede and confuse traffic, and which are inconsistent with sound traffic discipline and control on the highways. However, the regulation permits law enforcement vehicles to use red domelights, fire trucks to use domelights, sirens and/or bells, hospital ambulances with blue domelights and sirens, and tow trucks with blue domelights (but no sirens).

The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic contains the relevant prohibition and states that: “In no case shall a vehicle have a red light or a red reflector directed to the front or a white light or a white reflector directed to the rear. This provision shall not apply to a white or yellow reversing light in cases where the domestic legislation of the country of registration of the vehicle permits such lights.”

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The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic states that: “In no circumstances shall a vehicle display a red light to the front or white light to the rear…A vehicle shall not be modified or lamps added to it in a way which could conflict with this requirement…No reversing lamp shall cause undue dazzle or inconvenience to other road users. If reversing lamps are fitted on a motor vehicle they shall emit white or selective-yellow light. These lamps shall be lit only when the reverse gear is engaged.”

The DOTC, LTFRB and the LTO have issued the Joint Administrative Order No. 2014 -01 which punishes “operating a motor vehicle without or with defective / improper / unauthorized accessories, including horns, sirens, whistles, blinkers, brakes, early warning device, brake (foot and hand brakes), brake lights, headlights, interior lights, signal lights, taillights, mufflers, spare tire, or any other accessory, device, equipment or part that is manifestly prejudicial to road safety.”

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Such a violation will subject the driver of the vehicle to a fine of P5,000, and the vehicle shall be impounded until the accessory, device, equipment or part is properly installed, corrected, or removed. The improper or unauthorized accessory, device, equipment or part shall likewise be confiscated in favor of the government.

From the foregoing web of regulations, our law enforcers can subject the use of green or blue lights, flashers and blinkers, and flashing or blinking brake lights on public roads to a fine of P5,000 for the driver, and to impounding of the vehicle until the offending lights are properly installed, corrected, or removed.

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