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New Mexico Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes

New Mexico Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes


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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State Overview

According to section 66-3-835, a flashing light is only permissible when used by authorized emergency vehicles, snowplows, school buses, and equipment marking highways. 

Authorized emergency vehicles are defined by New Mexico law as “any fire department vehicle, police vehicle and ambulance, and any vehicle” that is being used by emergency personnel in official emergency situations or are designated by New Mexico officials as such according to section 66-1-4.1.

Emergency lights are considered to be red or blue lights while warning lights are amber or white lights. 

Law Enforcement Statutes

Police and Sheriff Vehicles

While some states have very specific statutes depending on what kind of authorized emergency vehicle you drive, New Mexico keeps the statutes pretty much the same for most operations. Police, marshall, and sheriff vehicles are considered authorized emergency vehicle. According to New Mexico emergency vehicle light statutes, it is very clear that emergency lights may be used when responding to an emergency, but are not permitted to be used when returning from such an emergency. This is mentioned in section 66.7.6 of the New Mexico emergency vehicle light statutes. 

Additionally, the statutes outline what laws can be broken by those who are responding to an emergency driving an authorized emergency vehicle. For example, an authorized emergency vehicle operated by emergency personnel may exceed the speed limit when responding to an emergency. It is also noted that police and law enforcement vehicles may use red lights, but don’t have the same requirements that other authorized emergency vehicles do in the sense that it must not be visible from the front. These emergency lights may be placed on police vehicles, and they may have one or more than one red light. 

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Fire and EMT

Fire Trucks & Fire Chief SUVs

Fire trucks and fire chief SUVs are considered to fall under the term of an authorized emergency vehicle. This means that they are allowed to use flashing red lights and emergency lights in general. However, any kind of emergency and warning light usage is limited to driving to an emergency and does not apply when returning from an emergency. This is also applicable to other special traffic regulations (like driving past the speed limit) that authorized emergency personnel may break so to speak in emergency situations, but must adhere to when not in official emergency use.

Flashing red lights are supposed to be seen from the front of the vehicle, and should be visible up to 500 feet according to section 66-7-6.

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Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles

Volunteer fire fighter vehicles have the same regulations and statutes in New Mexico as the fire trucks and fire chief SUVs. Volunteer fire fighter vehicles should be using flashing red lights when driving to an emergency, but aren’t allowed the use of the lights on their return when not officially in emergency mode.

Ambulance and EMT Vehicles

The ambulance and EMT vehicles are also permitted the use of flashing red lights, just like other authorized emergency vehicles. These are the only vehicles that are allowed the use of red lights. 

Commercial and Amber Statutes

Security Vehicles

According to section 66-3-835, registered security vehicles are allowed the use of amber flashing lights. 

Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Tow trucks and wreckers are allowed to use warning lights. However, the use of it is very restricted. As with emergency vehicles, wreckers and tow trucks are only allowed to use warning lights on their way to their official work destination. Tow trucks are allowed to use flashing lights on their way to pick up the stranded vehicle as explained in section 66-3-835. 

After finishing the job, however, the lights must be turned off. 

Additionally, New Mexico law requires wreckers and tow trucks to use flashing lights in any other color than red. Red is allotted for emergency use only by authorized emergency personnel. 


Tractors are considered a slow-moving vehicle that has the potential to become a traffic hazard if it doesn’t alert traffic of its presence and need for caution when driving. Therefore, tractors are allowed the use of amber flashing lights as to let other drivers know to drive their cars slowly behind them or to move around. This is mentioned in section 66-3-887.

Utility Vehicles 

Utility vehicles are permitted the use of warning lights. In section 66-3-835 it is specified that any color is allowed, except for the use of red warning lights as these are restricted for authorized emergency vehicle use only. These lights must be flashing lights, so that traffic is alerted of the utility vehicle’s presence and so it does not present a traffic hazard. 

Once again, as mentioned in previous sections, any kind of lighting is only allowed to be used in the event of the job or service being performed and must be turned off immediately after the job has been completed. 

Pilot and Escort Vehicles

Pilot and escort vehicles are used to alert cars that there is a truck ahead of them with cargo that could potentially cause a hazard if it were to get loose according to section 66-7-314. These pilot and escort vehicles must follow the legal light requirements of New Mexico, which means each pilot and/or escort vehicle must install two rotating amber warning lights, as well as have a sign that warns other cars of “oversize load”. 

Additionally, the lights must be positioned a certain way on the vehicle and must provide sufficient lighting. In the case of New Mexico’s standards, the amber lights must be placed either the width of the vehicle apart or not more than 8’ apart. The lights must also be visible from at least 8000 feet in daylight. 

Construction Vehicles

Construction vehicles pose a hazard to drivers in many different ways – when driving, they are slow and impede traffic, and when standing still to complete work, they also impede traffic – either way, they do not follow regular traffic regulations and therefore represent a true danger to those driving around them. Therefore warning lights are necessary in order to keep everyone safe, both drivers and construction workers. 

Per section 66-3-385, the construction vehicles are allowed and required to use flashing amber warning lights. In addition, it is important to use other markers for drivers to recognize that there is construction coming up ahead. This can be done via cones and other marking equipment, including lights. The use of illuminating devices for workers on vehicles is also described in the same section.

Funeral Procession

New Mexico does not state or seem to have any specific guidance in terms of emergency lights with funeral processions. No emergency lights are allowed, however, the use of warning lights is not addressed. In section 66-3-887, the statute addresses slow-moving vehicles and refers to them being allowed the use of flashing amber lights – contact the New Mexico DOT to learn more here. 


Special Permits

The New Mexico statutes make no mention of where to obtain special permits for personal use. There are some permits mentioned in regards to farming equipment and commercial use in various sections. However, in order to find out what permits there are in regards to emergency lighting and warning light, contact the New Mexico DOT to learn more here. 

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