Is it illegal to attach a light on top of your car?

  • hollyky
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I was wondering whether anyone knows whether it’s allowed by law to put a LED-based light on top of my car?
  • Anonymous
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Call your local police department and ask someone there. Better yet, drive to the police station, and ask someone to come out and look at exactly what you want to do.

These sorts of rules change from area to area.
  • hollyky
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Good advice :) Yeah, should've thought of that. It's my younger brother who wants to know.. :) Thanks, joebert!
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Laws on lights in my experience, can vary pretty wildly from area to area. For instance, where I live it's illegal to have a neon light around your license plate no matter what color it is, and the last I knew the blinking lights people were putting on their tire's air valves couldn't be red or blue due to being confused with emergency vehicle lights.
  • Gilcrease
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Post 3+ Months Ago

*what* kind of light do u mean? One like the cops have? /frowns
  • samuelsun
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Post 3+ Months Ago

They are not allowed in my area at least.
  • Justlemmepostalready
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Post 3+ Months Ago

joe gets my endorsement. Things change state to state, city to city. Federal/state jurisdiction ... For a free country there's more laws than anyone could ever count.

Even if it's ok with your local jurisdiction. Doesn't mean you're good to go with the other 31,323,332 govt authorities who might have something to say about it.

Seen tow trucks with lighting on the top ... sighs.


Good idea to get through a traffic jam though. Crap we're running late ... Quick hit the sirens. To the bat cave !!!
  • GT500Shlby
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'm a volunteer firefighter and in Pennsylvania at least they have strict limits on what you can have on your car.

For example:

A basic non-junior firefighter (over 18) can only have a single blue light enclosure with no more than 2-lamps (or LED-equivalent) and they must provide a specific flashing blue pattern in a 360 degree radius. They also do not allow the blue-lights inside the vehicle on the windshield because they say it harms your night vision and could cause a safety hazard.

An emergency radio technician: can have a blue/white alternating light, however the same location and type as the regular firefighter.

A fire officer (Rescue Captain, QRS Captain): Can have the same as above but in Red. However, it can only be a single 360 degree light on top of the vehicle.

A chief officer (Assistant and Higher): Can have red/white alternating lights with a siren and a preemption device (Opticom). However, the pattern must match what the State Police mandate as "proper" for your area. They may also have strobes in the head and tail lights.

A Fire Police Captain/Lieutenant: Can have Red/Blue alternating lights w/ a siren and preemption device. Again, they must follow the State Police mandates.


However, it's a big hot mess. Because the law hasn't caught up to technology yet the local Police departments and even some state police departments have been moving ahead and for all intents and purposes ignoring the law.

My car, which is a department car (I'm a Deputy Chief of my Volunteer company) has red/white lights all over the car, even under the running boards, in all the windows, etc... And we purchased the car from an Emergency Vehicle company (Havis Shield) and the car is a "Police Supervisor Tahoe" as they call it. I even have red and white strobes in the head and tail lights.

Again, the laws are old-hat and Police/Fire/EMS departments move faster than the law. Not like we will get in trouble, the local state trooper barracks just got all new Tahoes from Havis in the same configuration as mine, except with red, white & blue lights. It's literally the same exact car - except I don't have the prisoner cage in the back and my back doors open from the inside.

As for the OP's inquiry. All I have to ask is: Why? If your looking for a spot-light to use on dark back-country roads without street-lights, there are a few legal products out there. And in most cases, if you have a legitimate reason, the police won't bug you. If you have a tuned up car and you want cool looking lights all over the car for the heck of it, the cops will bust your marbles.

Best advice, if it's not really necessary, I would avoid it.

There are also laws regarding construction and assistance vehicles. Like tow trucks. They can only have an Amber light and some are allowed strobes.

Hope that helps.
  • linkbuildr
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Post 3+ Months Ago

joebert wrote:
Laws on lights in my experience, can vary pretty wildly from area to area. For instance, where I live it's illegal to have a neon light around your license plate no matter what color it is, and the last I knew the blinking lights people were putting on their tire's air valves couldn't be red or blue due to being confused with emergency vehicle lights.


In some places this may inspire the police to harass you or charge you with some other "problem" related to your car. Lawyers advise against talking to the police for a reason.

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