Can I use blue lights on my car in Florida? South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney answers
In Short: No. You cannot have blue lights on your car in Florida.
It is prohibited for any person who is not a law enforcement officer in Florida to use or have blue lights on their car.
Why can’t I have blue lights on my car in Florida?
Florida Law - Florida Statute 316.2397 - expressly prohibits any vehicles, that are not police vehicles, from displaying blue lights.
One exemption is for vehicles owned, operated or leased by the Department of Corrections or a county correctional agency which are allowed to display blue lights when responding to an emergency. This, of course, though is an agency that works closely with law enforcement and it's only allowed when responding to an emergency.
This Florida statute additionally states that a person may not drive or any vehicle that displays red, red and white or blue light visible from “directly in front.”
The only vehicles permitted to display blue lights in Florida are police or law enforcement vehicles or other vehicles operated or under control of an emergency response agency that is actively responding to an emergency in Florida.
What are the consequences of Putting Blue Lights on your Car in Florida?
If you illegally use blue lights on your car, it is a criminal offense in Florida.
Florida law - Florida Statute 843.081 - states individuals who illegally use blue lights commit an obstruction of justice crime. Even if the lights are not on, or the lights are not being used - it is prohibited for individuals who are not law enforcement officers to use blue lights or even have them on their car.
The Florida legislature, through this statute, also prohibits the use of flashing or rotating blue lights on any “non governmentally owned vehicle,” by any person who is not employed as a “federal, state, county, or city” law enforcement officer or a person specially appointed by the Governor.
These exceptions, however, do not apply to “salespersons, service representatives, or other employees of businesses” tasked with repairing law enforcement equipment.
You can go to jail for having Blue Lights on your car in Florida
Any person who uses blue lights, who is not a law enforcement officer approved to have blue lights on their car, will be committing a criminal act.
If arrested, charged with a crime for blue lights and subsequently convicted for having blue lights on your car in Florida - it is a first-degree misdemeanor which leads to penalties in the form of up to 1 year in county jail, up to one year of probation, and fines up to $1,000.
Why Can’t I Use Blue Lights on My Car in Florida?
Blue lights are commonly used on law enforcement vehicles, specifically police cars. Blue lights help police cars to be more easily recognizable when their flashing blue lights are in use - this is a safety measure, as the lights are a different color so drivers and pedestrians are aware that blue lights means there is an emergency, and they know to pull over or act accordingly.
Is it Okay to Use a Blue Light on my Car in Florida if Issued to Me By My Employer?
No - even if your employer gives you blue lights for a personal or work vehicle, you still cannot have them or use them.
A famous example that properly answers this question arose in 2016 with the popular ride sharing company Uber. In 2016, Uber released a gadget they called the “Uber Beacon” lights.
The Uber Beacon light was a blue light with the Uber logo on it that drivers could use to alert their customers when they arrived at the pick-up location.
Despite the company providing these lights to their drivers, the Uber Beacon lights were still considered illegal in Florida (under the previously mentioned statutes) because blue lights are reserved for law enforcement vehicles in the state of Florida.
Blue Lights are prohibited from being used by anyone who is not operating a law enforcement vehicle.
The blue Uber lights were not only distracting for other drivers but the Florida Uber drivers (and those in states with similar laws) who used the lights could be found to be committing a criminal act. Especially because “a person may not drive any vehicle on any highway within this state with any device thereon showing or displaying a...blue light visible from directly in front” (Florida Statute 316.2397).
Uber has since stopped using these blue lights, but their newest “Uber Beacon,” offered only to select Uber Pro Platinum and Diamond drivers, still has a blue light function. Thus, it is important for Uber drivers and all drivers to know the Florida law and not use a vehicle with a blue light - any portion of a blue light or blue light function- visible from the front of the car if they are not Florida law enforcement officials.
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If you or someone you know was arrested for having blue lights on their car in Florida, give our office a call for a free strategy session.