This article was written by a contributing author, and is not meant to be taken as legal advice, nor is it intended to replace the state statutes. Do your due diligence, cross-check the statutes linked, and communicate with your local municipalities, registrar, or commissioner to ensure that you remain compliant and avoid costly fees.
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Georgia state laws surrounding motor vehicle lights are fairly easy to follow and understand for the average person. The laws vary depending on whether or not the vehicle belongs to a law enforcement agency, EMS, tow truck, utility vehicle, or personal vehicle.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know when it comes to making sure that you have all the legal vehicle lights permitted to you, your precinct, or your company vehicles.
Law Enforcement Statutes
Police, Marshall, and Sheriff Vehicles
Law enforcement vehicles have the least restrictive regulations regarding the laws surrounding their emergency vehicle lights. This gives them access to red, amber, green, white, and blue lights as allowed by statute 40-8-90 of the Georgia Code.
Per statute 40-8-92, blue flashing lights are permitted on all marked police vehicles without a permit. Unmarked vehicles and other law enforcement vehicles can utilize blue lights as long as they acquire a permit from the commissioner of public safety. If the vehicle is owned and or belongs to a federal, state, county, or municipal agency, the $2.00 fee will be waived. All other vehicles will be required to pay the $2.00 fee for each vehicle the permit covers. The permit will be good for five years.
In addition to permits, law enforcement vehicles are required to have their flashing lights visible at a distance of at least 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions, according to statute 40-8-91. This allows traffic to know to change lanes to give them space on the side of the road with plenty of distance to do safely. It also alerts those they’re pulling over, when violating a traffic law, of their intent well in advance.
Law enforcement vehicles are permitted by statute 40-8-82 to have a flashing or revolving green light while stationary as a beacon to designate the location of a command post at the site of an emergency.
While in their law enforcement vehicle, the police officer is permitted to disregard speed limits, stop signs, and any other traffic law for the sake of pursuing a criminal or responding to an emergency call. Some situations also require them to use their siren as well. This is covered under statute 40-6-6 of the Georgia Code. This does not permit the law enforcement officer or EMS to practice undue regard for the safety of all persons simply because they have their flashing lights on while responding to an emergency situation. Safety is still paramount, and emergency personnel will still be responsible in the event of an accident that they cause.
Statute 40-8-91 sub-section d of the Georgia Code requires each decommissioned police vehicle to have its colored lights and lettering completely removed. Driving a decommissioned police vehicle that has not had its decals and lights removed will result in a misdemeanor.
Fire and EMS Statues
Fire Trucks and Fire Chief SUVs
Fire trucks and all vehicles clearly marked have similar laws surrounding their led lighting as law enforcement vehicles, with one exception. Per statute 40-8-90 of the Georgia code, only police and law enforcement vehicles can utilize a flashing or revolving blue light. Other emergency vehicles are not permitted to display this color lighting.
According to statute 40-8-92, vehicles clearly marked for use in an emergency situation for the fire department can display red, amber, and white emergency lights.
In addition, per statute 40-6-6, emergency vehicles are also permitted to disregard traffic laws to safely and quickly arrive at the emergency scene while their lights are flashing. They must exercise care when doing so to avoid causing an accident or injury while on the way. This is only permissible while on the way to the emergency. You cannot use the flashing lights in the fire truck while on the way back from an emergency.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles
Volunteer firefighter vehicles are permitted to having red flashing lights on them as long as the proper permit is acquired and paid for from the commissioner of public safety. The permit is only $2.00 and must be renewed and paid every twelve months.
Per statute 40-6-6, volunteer firefighter vehicles are also permitted to disregard traffic laws for the sake of arriving at an emergency scene promptly. This can only be done while their red lights are flashing and, as mentioned before, they must exercise due regard for the safety of all persons around them.
Ambulance and EMT Vehicles
Ambulance and EMT vehicles are covered in a very similar fashion to firefighters. They are granted permission to utilize flashing red, amber, and white emergency lights per statute 40-8-92 of the Georgia code. No permit is necessary if the emergency vehicle is distinguished properly as an EMS vehicle. Blue lights are not permitted and are exclusively for use in law enforcement vehicles per statute 40-8-90.
Ambulance and EMT vehicles using their emergency flashing lights are permitted by the state of Georgia to safely disregard any and all traffic laws to quickly arrive to the scene of an emergency. They have the same rules and the police vehicle and fire truck, where they must practice due regard for the safety of all those around them. This is covered under statute 40-6-6 of the Georgia code.
Commercial and Amber Statutes
Amber lights are permitted after applying for and obtaining a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety. This fee comes with a $2.00 fee and must be paid yearly. The commissioner has the right to award one permit for the entire security fleet, but the $2.00 fee must be paid for every vehicle covered by the permit. This is laid out in statute 40-8-92.
Per statute 40-6-6, security vehicles are not permitted to disregard traffic laws as they are privately owned. In the event of an emergency that warrants that sort of response, calling 911 to get law enforcement or an emergency vehicle on scene quicker is required.
Wreckers and Tow Trucks
Although a tow truck aids in creating safety on the road by removing obstructions after an accident or if a vehicle is broken down on the highway, per statute 40-8-90 and 40-8-02, wreckers and tow trucks are not permitted to display any emergency red or blue lights.
Tow trucks are privately owned and must apply for a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety and pay a $2.00 fee. This fee must be renewed and paid for every year. One permit can cover the entire fleet, but a $2.00 fee must be paid for every tow truck or wrecker that it is intended to cover.
Per statute 40-8-92 of the Georgia code, tractors are permitted to display amber lights after applying for a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety. Each permit comes with a fee of $2.00 and must be paid yearly as with the other vehicles, the permit can cover multiple vehicles, but the $2.00 fee must be paid for every vehicle covered under each permit.
Utility vehicles are required by statute 40-8-92 to acquire a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety to display an amber light. To obtain the permit, the company must pay a $2.00 fee. The commissioner may grant the permit to cover multiple vehicles in the fleet, but the $2.00 fee must be paid for every vehicle you want the permit to cover.
Pilot and Escort Vehicles
Pilot vehicles are a little more unique as they direct traffic and have some control over the road. Like other non-emergency vehicles, under statute 40-8-92, a permit must be acquired from the Georgia commissioner of safety to display amber lighting. A $2.00 fee must be paid for every vehicle that the permit is to cover.
What makes pilot vehicles a little more unique is that, since they may be driving slower than other traffic, they must display a flashing amber light that is visible at least 500 feet in front and behind them per statute 40-8-35 of Georgia code.
Construction vehicles are covered like other non-emergency vehicles. To display an amber light, the company must obtain a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety and pay a $2.00 fee per vehicle covered. This must be paid yearly and is addressed under statute 40-8-92.
If the truck is transporting a load that exceeds four feet of the sides or rear of the truck, the vehicle must display a multi-directional red light that can be seen for 500 feet from every direction. The strobe must flash a minimum of 60 times per minute. This light must be positioned at the extreme rear of the vehicle. If the load is exclusively exceeding four feet to the rear of the truck, only an amber light is required by must be visible for 500 feet on all sides. This is all per statute 40-8-27 of the Georgia code.
Per statute 40-8-92, a permit can be acquired from the Georgia commissioner of safety for your funeral procession to display a flashing amber light. A $2.00 fee must be paid to acquire the permit.
A funeral procession is covered much the same as a pilot vehicle, per statute 40-8-35, as a funeral procession will be slowing down traffic. The amber light displayed must be visible for 500 feet to the front and back of the vehicle.
Emergency Lights on Personal Vehicles
Emergency lights are permitted on personal vehicles used as long as they obtain a permit from the Georgia commissioner of safety. The same $2.00 fee must be paid each year for the vehicle per statute 40-8-92
The stipulation for using emergency lights on personal vehicles is that they must be used while working and not for your personal use. These vehicles are even permitted to display blue or red emergency lighting when responding to an emergency and depending on the agency that they are working for per statute 40-8-90.
Permits can be obtained by the Georgia commissioner of safety to display emergency lighting for other purposes. A $2.00 fee must be paid for every vehicle covered under the permit and must be obtained yearly per statute 40-8-92.
These permits must be utilized for a specific purpose that requires extra safety on or around the road. Hobbies and activities that involve road closures and transporting goods are covered under statute 40-8-90. Blue lights are permitted under special circumstances but must be displayed toward the vehicle’s rear and may not be flashing.
Pay close attention to the laws in your state. This is meant as a guide and is not a comprehensive list of any and all situations that you may use emergency lighting on your vehicle. Please, contact the Georgia commissioner of safety for more information regarding your state’s laws to avoid penalties and misdemeanors associated with the improper use of emergency lights.
Always take caution when on the road and use every safety feature that your vehicle has to offer. Using your vehicle’s LED lights in the proper fashion can save lives.