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What Kind of Lights do Unmarked Police Cars Use?

We’ve all seen those cars on the side of the road or the interstate median. Usually they are low-profile, painted in a muted color, and have tinted windows. I know that every time I drive by a vehicle of that description I think to myself “is that an unmarked car?” Sometimes you will see them on the side of the street, flashing blue LEDs and giving away their cover as they ticket an unsuspecting speeder. You may find yourself wondering what kind of lights they install in those cars, if they are the same kind of lights that are in regular police cruisers, and if you can get police lights for car.

To answer the first question, “what kind of lights are they,” we can take a look at Ultra Bright Lightz website. Fortunately, this site is incredibly easy to use and they sort all of their available lights by type, making it easy for us to see the different styles of lights that are used in first-response vehicles. On their main page they have their different styles of lights divided into four separate sections: dash lights, visor lights, stick lights, and grill lights. Ultra Bright Lightz also carries other kinds of emergency LEDs, such as hideaway dome lights, but the previous categories that were mentioned are the most ubiquitous types of lights in an unmarked car.

Dash lights are incredibly common for most emergency vehicles. They serve the purpose of creating a high-visibility strobe to ensure the safety of first responders and other motorists. One option on the Ultra Bright Lightz website is the Feniex Fusion 2x Single Color Dash Light. This light is easy-to-use, inexpensive, and high-quality. This model comes in a few different styles, but the one that stands out to me is the Dual Color module. This comes equipped with two sets of twelve LED lights that flash alternating colors such as red and blue. It’s like a classic police cruiser light bar, but with a much smaller interior design. This particular model is installed directly to the windshield via suction cups, and plugs directly into the vehicle outlet. No hard wiring is needed, as this model functions off of a simple on/off switch directly on the unit.

Another kind of first responder LED light is the Feniex Cobra T3 Surface Mount Grill Light. This light comes in basically any color you can think of and mounts virtually anywhere on the surface of a vehicle. The most common areas to mount a T3 are the grill and license plate well. Despite the T3’s small profile, this light is incredibly bright, offering high visibility in a form-fitting package. The size of the T3 also reduces drag on the vehicle while it is in travel in comparison to other models, making it a great option for many first-responder vehicles. It is also weathertight and water-sealed, making it a long lasting exterior light that needs very little maintenance.

Now that we have discussed a few different options for lighting your car, we need to answer the question “is it legal to have police lights for my car?” Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Essentially, it is unlawful for a civilian car to appear as if it is a police car, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle. Installing a strobe light bar in your everyday driving vehicle is going to cause you trouble at some point, as these lights are primarily designed for emergency use. Their main purpose is to warn other drivers by use of a high-visibility strobe effect and also to convey the authority of a police vehicle or ambulance. So, in the case of general use, you should not install things like light bars or dome lights on your personal car.

However, there are a few exceptions. There are instances where civilian cars utilizing emergency lighting is required and encouraged. Keep in mind that these rules do vary by state, so looking up your states laws on emergency vehicle lighting is a good idea before you purchase anything. Generally, a private vehicle that is used primarily off road is allowed to utilize LED emergency lighting. So, a tractor or truck used on a farm or wood lot can legally have emergency lighting installed. Also, a personal truck used for plowing snow can sometimes use a dome light, but that is dependent upon your state’s regulations. Some civilian organizations can also use emergency lighting in their vehicles as well. For instance, private security companies will often use LED lighting on their patrol cars for visibility and safety. In a situation like this, it can sometimes be assumed that using an LED light bar for a practical purpose is allowed by law, as long as it isn’t being done just for looks. It should be noted, however, that it is never a good idea to use well known police colors (such as red and blue flashers) on a personal vehicle. Even most security agencies use an orange light instead.

If you have any questions or comments you can contact Ultra Bright Lightz at (1-888-562-5125) and get a set of police lights for your car today!