Many vehicles are permitted to use emergency lights within the state of Virginia. These vehicles include ambulances, police vehicles, fire trucks and auxiliary fire vehicles. Many other vehicles such as construction vehicles, tow trucks, wreckers, and more are also permitted to use a limited number and type of flashing emergency-style lights. Below is a list of the most common vehicle lighting statues contained in the Virginia state law.
Virginia state law allows police vehicles to use blue, red, and white police lights or any combination of these colors that are approved by the department. These lights must blink, flash, alternate, or strobe according to state statute 46.2-1022. In addition to these lights, law enforcement vehicles may also be equipped with clear auxiliary lights to be used detecting and apprehending law breakers or any other reasonable function. These lights can only be used while the vehicle is in motion is the vehicle is traveling at 15 miles per hour or slower according to state statute 46.2-1029.
It's important to note that these colors and their usage is not limited solely to police vehicles. Some military or National Guard vehicles may also use these combinations of lights when acting in an official law enforcement capacity.
Fire Truck Lights
Fire trucks are allowed to use red or red and white lights under state statute 46.2-1023. These lights are required to blink, flash, alternate, or strobe when being used in an official capacity. Amber lights may be used in addition to red and white lights per state statute 46.2-1025 on fire apparatus vehicles so long as the amber lights are only visible from behind. Clear auxiliary lights used to highlight emergency scenes are also permitted under state statute 46.2-1028. These fire truck lights cannot be lit when the vehicle is in motion nor can they be used in a way that will blind or reduce the vision of oncoming drivers. In addition to fire trucks, forest wardens, emergency management officials, animal wardens, and even some NASA officials are able to use these light combinations when they are acting in an official capacity.
Volunteer Firefighter Lights
Virginia state statute 46.2-1024 allows volunteer firefighters to equip one personal vehicle with no more than two red and white or red flashing emergency lights. These lights are only allowed to be used when responding to an emergency situation. Additionally, volunteer EMTs and police chaplains may also equip one personal vehicle each with these emergency lights. Police chaplains, however, must pass a training course specific to the operation of a motor vehicle under emergency conditions prior to equipping a personal vehicle with any emergency lights. Additionally, the equipped vehicle must hold a certificate indicating the successful completion of this course any time that emergency lights are activated.
In the state of Virginia, ambulances are also able to red or red and white emergency lights. This is pursuant to state statute 46.2-1023. As with fire trucks, these lights must blink, flash, strobe, or alternate. Amber lights may be used in addition to red and white lights per state statute 46.2-1025 so long as they are only visible from behind the EMT vehicle. Clear auxiliary lights, meant to illuminate an emergency scene, may also be used by an ambulance under Virginia state statute 46.2-1028.
Tow Truck Lights
Pursuant to state statute 46.2-1025, tow trucks may only use amber lights that flash, blink, or alternate. If the vehicle in question is not classified by Virginia state law as a tow truck, but the vehicle is owned and operated by a towing or recovery business, the amber lights may be lit, but only when the vehicle is being used at a tow site. This means that the strobe lights may not be lit when the vehicle is driving on the roadway. These vehicles typically offer support to tow trucks or tow truck drivers.
Construction Vehicle Lights
State statute 46.2-1025 also allows for construction vehicles to use amber lights that flash, blink, or alternate. These lights can only be used when the vehicles are actively assisting in construction of public roadways, traffic management on public roadways, or the management of roadway incidents on public highways. This statute also extends to vehicles that are owned and used by construction companies holding Virginia contractor's licenses.
Utility Vehicle Lights
Public utility vehicle lights are also governed by Virginia state statute 46.2-1025. These vehicles are permitted to use blinking, flashing, strobing, or alternating amber lights when they are repairing or installing public utilities alongside a public highway. Electric service vehicles weighing more than 15,000 pounds may be equipped with clear auxiliary lights pointing to the ground for the purpose of increasing ground visibility under state statute 46.2-1028.2. These lights can only be mounted at the bottom of the vehicle and can't interfere with the vision of oncoming drivers.
Pilot Vehicle Lights
Pilot vehicles are to use amber lights as well, but Virginia state statute 46.2-1026 requires that these vehicles use high-intensity flashing, blinking, or alternating lights that are visible for a minimum of 500 feet. These lights are to be used any time the vehicle is escorting or towing oversize materials that require a highway permit per state statute 46.2-1139. State statute requires that these lights be placed on top of the escort vehicle as well as on the upper rear end of the towing vehicle. It is preferred that the towing vehicle have these lights mounted on both the front and rear to increase visibility.
Security Vehicle Lights
Security vehicles may not use flashing or emergency-style lights when on public roadways. However, vehicles owned and operated by security services may use amber lights that flash, blink, or alternate when the vehicle is being used to provide those security services on private property. Virginia state statute 46.2-1025 lays out the requirements for the use of amber lights by security vehicles in Virginia. Neighborhood watch groups or other security groups approved by the chief law enforcement officer in their locality may also use amber lights as long as the vehicle in question is clearly marked as a neighborhood watch vehicle and so long as the lights are not used when the vehicle is in motion on a public roadway.
For more information about what lights may be available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 804-674-2000
*Please note that these numbers are what we are currently able to find and the numbers may have changed since this listing.
Disclaimer: The emergency vehicle light state statute guide was created by Extreme Tactical Dynamics as a guide and reference. We make no claim to the accuracy or validity of this guide. This guide was written to the best of our knowledge and has been provided to our customers as a courtesy ONLY! The information in this guide is our interpretation of the law as we have read it. We cannot be held responsible for any errors as this is only our interpretation of the law and the laws are constantly changing. We cannot be held liable or responsible for any errors and recommend that our customers refer to their local authorities to confirm the particular statue that governs their use of emergency vehicle lights.