Can Civilians Legally Use Emergency Vehicle Lights?

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Emergency vehicle lights are standard for law enforcement officers and first responders. Police cars, ambulances, fire trucks – they’re all equipped with special lighting. In many cases, this applies to first responders’ personal vehicles as well as official fleet cars, trucks and SUVs.

So, can civilians also outfit their vehicles with similar emergency lights, or is doing so considered illegal?

Because regulations vary from state to state, you will need to check with your local law enforcement agency to learn the specific rules for the use of emergency vehicle lights in your area. Generally speaking, however, civilians cannot make their personal vehicles look like those driven by police officers and first responders. And that means that certain lighting options are not acceptable for civilian cars under any circumstances.

For the basics on emergency lighting for personal vehicles, take a look at the following information from the experts at LED Equipped.

Buying Emergency Vehicle Lights IS Legal

Emergency lights are available to the general public, and anyone can legally make purchase LED light bars, warning lights, hideaway lights, dash lights, etc. You do not Have to work in law enforcement, for the fire department or as a first responder to buy any of these types of lighting products.

Lighting suppliers are exactly that – suppliers. When you shop for emergency vehicle lights, no one will ask about the legality of using them in your state when you make your purchase. You can purchase any type, style and color you like.

But it is your responsibility to know and follow the local laws, when it comes to mounting and using them on your personal vehicle.

Emergency Vehicle Lights for Off-Road & Private Use May Be Legal

Civilians who install lighting for off-road driving are typically within the law, provided they keep the lights off whenever they drive on public roads. In some areas, however, you must also keep the lights covered for them to be street legal.

Lighting is also typically legal for any vehicles that civilians use on their own property. For example, most state laws allow farmers to equip their tractors, hay bailers, combines, cultivators, harvesters and ATVs with emergency vehicle lights, as long as they only use them while on their own private property.

Emergency Vehicle Lights May Be Legal for Private Security Companies

In many areas, security companies that patrol private properties are legally permitted to drive vehicles equipped with emergency lighting. This is often the case for agencies tasked with protecting company parking lots, amusement parks, hospitals, private detention facilities, shopping malls, etc..

However, state laws typically limit the type of lighting permitted for use on private security vehicles. In most instances, amber lighting is used to distinguish the cars from those operated by official law enforcement agencies.

Your state may also impose restrictions about the use of these lighting products when you are not on private property.

Common Restrictions on Civilian Use of Emergency Vehicle Lights

State laws regarding the use of vehicle lighting differ greatly from location to location. Consequently, the options that are legally acceptable in one part of the country may not be legal in other areas.

For this reason, we strongly recommend that any civilians who are interested in installing auxiliary vehicle lighting contact their local law enforcement agency to find out exactly what is and is not legally acceptable. Skipping this step could mean being cited by the police, paying substantial fines or facing other penalties.

However, state regulations on emergency vehicle lights do share some commonalities. Civilians around the country should expect restrictions on the following factors:

Restricted Colors

In many states, only law enforcement officers can legally display blue vehicle lights. Red emergency lighting is often reserved for ambulances and official vehicles of the fire and police departments. And, in some areas, the colors of green and white are also restricted to specific purposes.

Flash Pattern Restrictions

In areas where civilians are legally permitted to outfit their vehicles with emergency lighting, local laws typically restrict the type of visual effect they can display legally. Strobe lights, rotating lights and flashers are usually not allowed for civilian city driving.

Brightness Restrictions

State regulations frequently have a cap on how bright civilian vehicle lights can legally be. As a general rule, auxiliary lighting should not be as bright as the car’s headlights or brake lights, because that has the potential to confuse or distract other drivers on the roadways.

Restrictions on Placement

Local laws commonly limit the where on their vehicles that civilians can position emergency vehicle lights. Front-facing auxiliary lights are illegal in some states, and others prohibit rear-facing lights. Undercarriage lighting is also against the law in many parts of the country.

Usage Restrictions

Civilians in many states can equip their vehicles with emergency lights as long as they keep them off when driving on public roads. Statues restricting color, flash pattern and positioning may not apply for use of vehicle lights on private property.

LED Lighting for Civilian Vehicles

The laws on emergency lights for civilian vehicles can certainly be confusing. But, when it comes to the superior lighting choice, there’s no confusion – LEDs clearly come out on top.

For civilians looking to add auxiliary lighting to their personal vehicles, LEDs are ideal for a number of reasons, which include:

  • Visibility: LED emergency lights shine brightly in all conditions, producing a high level of illumination that reaches a great distance.
  • Efficiency: LED lights require very little power to provide illumination, so their operation will not put much of a drain on a vehicle’s battery.
  • Durability: With few internal components and high-quality housing, LED lights are incredibly resistant to damage and can easily withstand cold temperatures.
  • Longevity: Compared to other vehicle lighting options, LED emergency lights last five to ten times as long – they continue to function for up to 50,000 hours.

In addition, LED lights are an eco-friendly choice. Not only are LEDs non-toxic, they’re also highly recyclable. And, the manufacture of LED emergency lights creates very little waste. For many civilians, the fact that LEDs are less harmful to the environment than other types of lighting makes them the only option.

LED lights are not the least expensive lighting solution, at least up-front, and budget is always a factor. However, since LEDs have such a long lifespan, they are the most cost-effective option over time. Plus, with some lighting suppliers – including LED Equipped — the prices for many styles of LED emergency lights are surprisingly affordable.

Buying LED Lights for Civilian Vehicles

If you plan to equip your personal vehicle with LED emergency lights, look for a reputable lighting supplier before deciding on any purchase. We, of course, recommend shopping with LED Equipped.

LED lights are available from a range of online suppliers and local stores, but the product quality from many of these sources can sometimes be lacking. With LED Equipped, you can count on getting top-of-the-line lighting solutions at the most affordable pricing you’re likely to find. Our high-tech products provide optimal performance and we stand behind every product we sell.

In fact, we offer a 3-year guarantee with all of our LED emergency lights.

LED Equipped is accredited with the Better Business Bureau – and we proudly maintain an A+ rating with the BBB. We are also Shopper Approved, with 4.6 out of 5 stars and nearly 800 customer reviews. What’s more, LED Equipped is the preferred lighting supplier for law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency vehicles, construction companies and towing services across the United States.

What Types of LED Lights Do We Sell?

LED Equipped carries an impressive selection of LED emergency lights from many of the world’s best brands and most well-respected manufacturers. We offer the highest-quality dash lights, grille lights, light bars and much more. And, we take care to maintain fair, competitive pricing on all of our products.

If you are not sure which types of LED lights will best meet your needs, the LED Equipped team is always standing by to help you. Civilians frequently come to us for their emergency vehicle light needs, and our friendly, knowledgeable associates can explain the available options and assist you in finding an ideal lighting solution to meet your needs.

With everything LED Equipped has to offer, shopping with us is always a wise choice. Visit our website to browse our catalog of high-quality products today. You can order online or, if you have questions or need advice on choosing the right LED emergency vehicle lights for your personal vehicle, contact us today. We can provide all the product-specific information you need to make the right off-road and emergency lighting choices for your needs.