Red/Blue Laws - A thread about lights

Apr 4, 2010
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Bruning Nebraska
Hey just wondering what other states red/blue laws are. Trying to get a topic going on here. I know here in Nebraska. As long as your a firefighter, emergency responder, emergency manager, or a doctor you can have them. But it has to to be signed off by the sheriff before you use them. But also if you get caught without the permit I believe its impersonating a cop and it does not matter if your an out of state EMT or first responder ect. If you not not licence to have them the plenty ranges from a Class I misdemeanor to a Class 4 Felony. Will post the laws.

Red/blue law: Nebraska Legislature

Impersonation: Nebraska Legislature
 
Jun 12, 2019
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Michigan
Michigan checking in. Usage is governed by Public Act 300 of 1954 (Michigan Vehicle Code), as amended. It specifically outlines which types of vehicles may exhibit flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights, under which circumstances they may be operated, who may operate them, and which colors may be used for which purposes. It's similar to Nebraska law in terms of who may use what types (though fire/EMS/doctors are red only, blue is for law enforcement only--I know it's opposite in other states). A private motor vehicle may be classified as an "Emergency Vehicle" under very specific circumstances (§257.2), and are only allowed to operate as such with specific drivers, under very specific conditions, upon authorization, and [by my experience] with State-recognized emergency vehicle operator training (EVOC) being successfully completed, including a closed-course practical component. Pre-emptive devices like the OptiCom are also included in these restrictions per §257.616a.

Interestingly enough, the law is not lax on who may posses amber lights. It is specifically called out in §257.698, and though I am not a lawyer, I cannot see any language that would permit their use in the course of storm spotting (at least in MI). Enforcement is a whole different matter, though (there are plenty of folks who have them and operate them in inclement weather).

In the early 2000s, I had a red light on my personal vehicle that I used occasionally when responding to incidents with my FD. It had to be approved by the fire chief, the vehicle had to be registered and undergo annual mechanical inspections, it could only be used within and no more than 3 miles out from the borders of the municipality I worked for, and I had to have EVOC recertification annually (no big deal since that was also a job requirement). These were department requirements, not necessarily state laws. The light was removable though, and I never took it out of state. I eventually did away with it, and started working duty shifts, where I could take the "company cars" on incidents, which had all that stuff pre-installed and legal. My current vehicle (that I chase in) has no flashing lights of any kind, unless you count the 4-way hazards. I'm a pretty low-key, chase-under-the-radar kind of guy (bad pun not intended).

Here's a link to the MI laws. It's a local municipality's site, as the official MI legislature site is down. Because of course it is.

EDIT: There's also this thread that Dan started a while back. Covers 2 more states to some degree.
 
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Reactions: Marc R. O'Leary
Always makes you look twice in Texas, since most road construction vehicles in Texas use a combination of red, blue, amber, and white. I'm used to only seeing red/blue when it comes to police, fire, EMT.

Flashing Lights Vehicles that may be equipped with alternately flashing red, white, and blue lighting include school and church buses, authorized emergency vehicles, certain tow trucks, and escort flag vehicles. Use of flashing amber lights is not prohibited under the Texas Transportation Code. Highway maintenance or construction vehicles and service vehicles are prohibited from using or being equipped with flashing white lights.
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
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Always makes you look twice in Texas, since most road construction vehicles in Texas use a combination of red, blue, amber, and white.
The document you point to is misleading. The document has the poorly worded sentence you quoted, but when you read bellow it (and look at the table in the middle), it says that construction vehicles in Texas can use only amber and blue flashing lights (and blue can only be used in certain instances). They can never use flashing red or white, which are restricted to police/fire/ems and in the case of red - school bus stop lights. I've lived in Texas 44 years, and not once have I seen a construction vehicle with red flashing lights (although many highway construction companies hire off duty officers who sit in personal cars with red/blue flashing lights).
 
May 25, 2014
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Texas DOT had them many years ago when I was in the state to pick up an ambulance, amber, red, and blue. It was rear-facing only. Once I passed the work zone, I could see all of the forward-facing lights were amber.
 
Apr 4, 2010
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Bruning Nebraska
I believe they do that in thinking the general public will slow down. I know in Nebraska they add blue lights about five years to all there NDOT vehicles in a effort to make the public slow down in construction zones.
 
Feb 4, 2020
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Cheyenne
These threads get out of control in many forums. Basically, each state varies - and for who, rights and responsibilities.

Not every state will honor the volunteer lights from one to another, and your mileage will vary by LE officer.

As it pertains to chasing, don’t use them nor amber lights, traffic arrows, etc. All you do it confuse drivers and there are quite a few who go WAY overboard in the name of safety - but it will have the opposite effect.

We are seeing this in the emergency servicesand trying to break the mindset that the more lights the safer you are - and it’s actually having an opposite effect on the road. The leading manufacturers are seeing this and coming up with some advanced solutions.

Your hazards lights are plenty enough in most chasing situations.
 
May 25, 2014
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It doesn't get out of hand here, as much as it does at other places. I mean, this isn't Hamsexy circa 2006. I think that's just because it's been beaten to death over the years, and it's pretty clear that using lights, in regards to chasing, has settled into 3 camps -

- Those that never, ever use them.
- Those that have a couple to a handful, it's tastefully done, and they use them sparingly.
- Those that have as many on the car as they can fit, and they run them all the time.

I have red lights for my fire obligations, and a pair of amber hideaways to augment them, that I can also use independently for chasing, if I absolutely 100% have to. No one's ever going to change.

Come to think of it, I used to augment my blue lights when I was non-ranking, and my red lights when I was ranking, with a green light on the passenger side, in a non-green light state. As in, PA state code doesn't even acknowledge that green exists (nor purple). I stopped doing that, not because of any LEO pressure, there was none, but when I started moving away from strobe and halogen and into LED, it cost more and you had to get things made custom.
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
It’s been a couple of years, so this is just a reminder that every state has different laws regarding what kind and wear colored lights you are allowed to use on a vehicle. If you have a desire to have a warning light, amber is generally an acceptable color.
Also, more people nowadays are adding a supplemental LED bar light to the roof of their vehicle or in front of the grille. Many states have laws on when those lights can be used. They’re generally only approved for off road use. Blind a LEO going down a county highway and you might find your name attached to a ticket.
 
Feb 20, 2019
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Decatur, GA
Georgia requires amber lights to have a permit: Amber Light Permit
It's $2, but only company checks, money orders, or cashiers checks are accepted.
The laws are here:

I personally fall into that middle category B. Dean Berry posted. I installed amber flashing and white steady lights on my truck. I really wasn't planning to do any of that, but they were a gift from a friend. The white lights, I might flip them on at night when there's no traffic (I already use the rears when backing into my driveway) but the amber flashing lights I'll only use when stopped in an odd place. I do have another reason for them though, I'm starting a side job as a drone pilot which will not only see me parked in potentially odd places, but will likely attract individuals of varying opinions on my flights. The amber lights I feel give a sense of legitimacy as does the hi-vis vest I wear when flying (hi-vis rain jacket when storm chasing). In other words, people see a random vehicle parked on the road, they'll get suspicious, they see a vehicle with amber lights and a guy with a hi-vis vest get out, they'll figure utility or something.