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Division of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Services Inspections

Vehicle Equipment

Delaware law requires the registration of all vehicles operated on the highway. This section describes the registration/title process. New residents must register/title their vehicles within sixty (60) days after moving to Delaware.

Motor Vehicle Equipment

Required Equipment

The equipment required for automobiles is listed in this subsection. (Prohibited equipment is discussed in the next subsection.) In some older vehicles, originally installed equipment may be adequate to meet these requirements. Additional or different equipment required by other motor vehicles is listed in supplements available at the office of the Division of Motor Vehicles (see back cover for addresses).

Every automobile registered in Delaware must have the following equipment:

Headlights - At least two white multiple beam lights are required, one on each side in the front. High beams must be aimed and strong enough to reveal persons and vehicles at least 350 feet ahead. Low beams must reveal people at least 100 feet ahead and must be so adjusted as not to strike the eyes of an approaching driver. Headlights must be on when windshield wipers are in use because of inclement weather.

Taillights - At least two, original design, red lights are required on the rear. They must be visible from a distance of 500 feet.

Parking Lights - At least one white or amber light visible within a distance of 500 feet to the front and at least one red light visible within a distance of 500 feet to the rear. Rear light(s) may be same as taillight(s).

License Plate Light - Must be white and strong enough for number of registration plate to be seen from a distance of 50 feet. Must illuminate registration plate without projecting light towards vehicles traveling in the same direction.

Stop Lights - Original design amber or red light is required on rear. It must light when the brake pedal is pushed and be visible from a distance of at least 100 feet in normal sunlight. If vehicle is equipped with two stop lights, both must be in working order.

Turn Signals - All vehicles manufactured after 1953 must be equipped with two turn signals in front and two in rear. Those in front may be any shade between white and amber; those in rear any shade between amber and red. Both sets must be visible at least 100 feet in normal sun-light. Older vehicles equipped with turn signals must have them in working order.

Reflectors - All vehicles manufactured after 1953 must have at least two red reflectors on the rear, either separate or as part of taillight assembly (Motorcycles need only one). All passenger cars made after January 1, 1970 must have front and rear side marker lights as well as reflectors per Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). 2 amber reflectors and marker lights, one on each side as far to the front as practicable at least 15 inches from the ground and no more than 60 inches from the ground. 2 red reflectors and marker lights, one on each side as far to the rear as practicable at least 15 inches from the ground and no more than 60 inches from the ground. All reflectors and marker lights must be a minimum of 4 square inches.

Foot Brake - Must stop vehicle within distance of 20 feet from a speed of 20 miles per hour on dry pavement. Brakes must be adjusted to work evenly on opposite sides of vehicle.

Parking or Emergency Brake - Must stop vehicle within a distance of 54 feet from a speed of 20 miles per hour.

Windshield and Windows - Windshield and all side and rear windows must be of safety glass. No stickers or signs shall be placed on windshield or other windows other than certificates required by law or those approved by the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Windshield Wipers - Are required to clean rain, snow, or other moisture from windshield.

Rear Vision Mirror - Must be placed so that driver can see any vehicle traveling in same direction. If view from inside mirror to rear is blocked, the vehicle must have outside mirrors on the left and right side of the vehicle.

Muffler - Must be in good working order and in constant operation. Loud or excessive noise is not permitted.

Horn - Must be able to make sound that can be heard under normal conditions at least 200 feet away.

Seat Belts - Must be installed for all front seat occupants, in passenger cars manufactured after January 1, 1968, and trucks, buses and multi-passenger vehicles manufactured after July 1, 1971.

Additional Equipment

Spotlights - Two may be mounted. No part of the intense beam shall be aimed to left or more than 100 feet ahead of vehicle.

Fog Lights - Two (white or yellow) may be mounted on front of vehicle at a height of not less than 12 inches nor more than 30 inches above the ground. Light beam must drop at least 4 inches in first 25 feet.

Back-up Lights - May be mounted on rear of vehicle to project light for backing. These may be any color from white to amber.

Colored Lights - Other than factory-equipped, marker lamps and turn signal lamps, no colored lights are permitted on the front of the vehicle. Such lights are permitted only on emergency vehicles.

Prohibited Equipment

Limitation in Number of Lights - Not more than four lights of 300 candlepower or more on the front of a vehicle shall be lighted at one time. Headlights must be installed no higher than 54 inches nor less than 24 inches from the center of the lamp to the ground.

Red Lights Prohibited in Front - No ordinary motor vehicle can show a red light visible to the front of such vehicle. Such lights are permitted only on emergency vehicles.

Flashing Lights Prohibited - Flashing lights are generally prohibited except on:

  • Emergency vehicles, school buses, snow removal equipment
  • Any vehicle as a means of indicating right or left turns
  • Any vehicle as a means of indicating a traffic hazard (four-way flashers)

License Plate Additions - Unauthorized frames, accessories, designs, or symbols on or attached to the license plate are prohibited.

Other Lights and Original Design Change - No light, lamp or reflector that tends to change the original design or performance of the vehicle may be installed.

Studded Tires - Are legal from October 15 to April 15 inclusive; illegal from April 16 to October 14 inclusive. Other states have different time periods when studded tires are permitted; a few states do not allow their use at any time. You must abide by their laws when passing through those states.

Cut-outs - It is prohibited to use a muffler cut-out.

Noise Devices - No ordinary vehicle shall be equipped with any siren or exhaust or compression whistle.

Towed Vehicle - No motor vehicle shall tow more than a single vehicle (except a tractor and semi-trailer may tow one other vehicle). The draw bar or other connection between any two vehicles, one of which is towing the other, must be no more than 15 feet long. If a chain, rope or cable is used, a red flag at least 12 inches square must be attached to it.

Tinted Windows - Window tint is prohibited on the front windshield below the top few inches of the windshield (specifically not below the ASI masking on the windshield), and on the left and right driver side/front passenger side windows. Tint material also may not be installed over any lights or the vehicle's license plate.