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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Mississippi has its own set of laws surrounding the use of LED lighting for an authorized emergency vehicle. The entirety of Mississippi’s provisions and regulations for emergency lights can be found under MS Code § 63-7-19. Generally speaking, most states have different codes and statutes for different vehicle types, situations, and circumstances where emergency personnel would need to use LED lights, but Mississippi chose to be brief.
Note: Mississippi clearly defines what qualifies as an authorized emergency vehicle under MS Code § 63-3-103 as every:
- Vehicle for the Fire Department
- Police Vehicle
- 911 Emergency Communications District vehicle
- Ambulance and Specialized EMS Vehicle
- Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Vehicle
- Emergency Vehicle for Municipal Departments of Public Service Corporations authorized by the Commission or Chief of Police of an Incorporated City.
Although this leaves room for little ambiguity, the last bullet point allows for unmentioned vehicles to be permitted to operate as an authorized emergency vehicle. This is likely for volunteer emergency personnel. Please get in touch with your local municipalities to double-check before incurring any costly fines or penalties.
Law Enforcement Statutes
Police, Marshall, and Sheriff Vehicles
MS Code § 63-7-19 permits every police vehicle to operate using an oscillating or flashing blue light. A police or law enforcement vehicle may also use a red oscillating or flashing red light in addition to the required blue emergency light. There are no indicators under Mississippi law regarding placement and visibility distance, but if they are like most states, the lights must be visible at 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions.
It is unclear whether or not any special provisions are made under Mississippi law regarding the behaviors a police officer must take while using their emergency lights. Generally speaking, a law enforcement vehicle may disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law while going to an emergency scene. This is typically accompanied by an audible signal such as a whistle or siren. This must be done with due regard for the safety of every motorist on the road or highway.
Traffic must yield to a law enforcement vehicle that is displaying its emergency lights. This is done by moving over at least one lane to provide room for the safe operation on the side of the road or by pulling off the road or highway completely so that emergency personnel may have safe passage.
Fire and EMS Statues
Fire Trucks and Fire Chief SUVs
Fire vehicles owned and operated by the fire department must be equipped with oscillating or flashing lights that are red to warn each motorist on the road or highway to yield the right of way per MS Code § 63-7-19. There are no visibility or placement regulations for emergency lights mentioned under Mississippi law.
While it is not explicitly stated, emergency personnel operating fire vehicles are generally permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law to quickly arrive at the scene of an emergency. This is usually done while using their emergency lights and an audible signal such as a siren or whistle. They must do so with due regard for the safety of each motorist on the road to prevent a potential accident.
Traffic is required to yield the right of way to fire vehicles operating with their emergency lights. This is done by making a lane change away from the emergency scene and slowing down or by pulling off the road or highway completely. This allows emergency personnel to operate safely without worrying about how traffic might interfere with their life-saving operations.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles
Mississippi law doesn’t make any explicit mention of volunteer fire vehicles. However, under MS Code § 63-3-103, the state commission of chief of police of an incorporated city may grant permission for some vehicles to operate as an authorized emergency vehicle.
If allowed permission to use a personal vehicle as an authorized emergency vehicle, oscillating or flashing lights that are red may be attached. This is to warn each motorist on the road or highway to yield the right of way as indicated under MS Code § 63-7-19. There are no explicit directions as to LED light placement or visibility distance.
When operating as an authorized emergency vehicle, emergency personnel are generally permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law to quickly arrive at the scene of an emergency. They must do so with due regard for the safety of each motorist on the road to prevent a car accident.
Traffic is mandated to yield to an emergency vehicle by performing a lane change so that emergency personnel has adequate room to work. They may also be required to pull off the road or highway entirely so that fire vehicles can safely pass while on their way to an emergency scene.
Ambulance and EMT Vehicles
MS Code § 63-7-19 requires that an ambulance or special use EMS vehicle have oscillating or flashing lights that are red located in the front and back. This is the first instance where the location of lights is mentioned under Mississippi law aside from general indicator lamp or headlight placement. Each ambulance or special use EMS vehicle may also have white and amber colored lights in addition to the required red emergency lights.
Although not explicitly stated under Mississippi law, emergency personnel is generally permitted to disregard the posted speed limit or any other traffic law to arrive at the scene of an emergency in a quick fashion. Using an audible signal such as a whistle or siren in addition to emergency lighting is required to be used while doing so. They must do so with due regard for the safety of each motorist on the road to avoid causing an accident while on the way to an emergency.
Traffic is required to yield to an ambulance or special use EMS vehicle when their emergency lights are illuminated. This is done by performing a lane change away from the emergency scene or by pulling off the road or highway altogether. This provides safe room for emergency personnel to perform life-saving work or pass safely on their way to an emergency scene.
Commercial and Amber Statutes
Security vehicles are not mentioned under Mississippi law for using LED lights as an authorized emergency vehicle or as a private business. The only indication of the possible use of emergency vehicle classification is by gaining permission from the state commission or chief of police according to MS Code § 63-3-103. Contact your local municipalities for more information.
Wreckers and Tow Trucks
A tow truck is permitted to use blinking, oscillating, or rotating amber colored lights per MS Code § 63-7-19. These lights are to inform traffic that they are required to yield the right of way for a road hazard that could potentially cause a dangerous situation. Light placement and visibility distances are not indicated under Mississippi law.
A tow truck is generally not permitted to disregard the posted speed limit or any other traffic law, although their purpose is to clear the road of a safety hazard. Traffic is still required to perform a lane change and yield to a tow truck so that the operator can perform their tasks safely.
Tractors are not explicitly mentioned for the use of emergency lighting. This may fall under the need to get permission from the state commission or chief of police of an incorporated city under MS Code § 63-3-103. If you feel you need emergency lighting, don’t hesitate to contact your local municipalities for more information.
MS Code § 63-7-19 permits a sanitation vehicle to operate using flashing or oscillating white or amber colored lights. This is to warn traffic of the potential safety hazard so that they can make a lane change if necessary, as a sanitation vehicle is often operating at a slower rate of speed than normal traffic. This is a unique classification as sanitary vehicles are not generally mentioned under other states’ laws.
When used for a military funeral procession, an oscillating or flashing light that is purple in color may be used by the pilot vehicles. A law enforcement vehicle may not be used for this purpose per MS Code § 63-7-19. This does not apply to a funeral procession for non-military personnel. Mississippi law doesn’t give any regulations or provisions regarding the placement of emergency lights.
When used for emergency purposes to indicate a safety hazard on the road, MS Code § 63-7-19 allows a construction vehicle to utilized oscillating or rotating amber-colored lights. These lights are used to inform traffic of a safety hazard that is present on the road that they may need to yield to by performing a lane change. There are no indicators regarding light placement or visibility distance.
Emergency Lights On Personal Vehicles
Aside from potentially obtaining a permit from the state commission or chief of police of an incorporated city per MS Code § 63-3-103, there are no provisions explicitly mentioned for using emergency lights on personal vehicles.
Per MS Code § 63-3-103, the state commission and chief of police of an incorporated city may provide a special permit for vehicles that may need to use emergency lighting. There is no mention of the circumstances in which these permissions are granted.
Mississippi is quite vague regarding the laws surrounding the use of LED lights for emergency vehicles. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation, so it is essential to contact your local municipalities for more information.
This article is meant to be used as an overview, and it is vital that you do your due diligence. Contact your state commission or local municipalities for more information that is directly related to your industry so that you can avoid costly fines and penalties.