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Can I have red LED lights on my car?


Having red LED lights on your car can look cool, but are they legal? The quick answer is that it depends on your local laws and regulations. Generally, most jurisdictions restrict or prohibit forward-facing red lights, while some allow rear-facing red lights under certain conditions. Keep reading to learn more about the legality of using red LED lights on your car.

Legality of Red LED Lights by Location

Laws regarding aftermarket lights vary by state and sometimes by municipality. Here is a quick overview of the legality of red LED lights by location:

Forward-Facing Red LED Lights

Location Legality
United States (Federal Law) Illegal – only emergency vehicles can have forward-facing red lights
California Illegal
Florida Illegal
New York Illegal
Texas Illegal

Forward-facing red lights are restricted in most states since they are associated with emergency vehicles. Having forward-facing red LED lights on your personal vehicle is likely to be considered illegal impersonation of an emergency vehicle.

Rear-Facing Red LED Lights

Location Legality
United States (Federal Law) Legal in many cases, but some restrictions may apply
California Legal if not flashing
Florida Legal if not flashing
New York Legal if not flashing and within 12 inches of the taillights
Texas Legal if steady burning and within 12 inches of the taillights

Rear-facing red LED lights tend to be allowed if they are steady burning (not flashing) and installed near the factory taillights. However, some states restrict certain types of rear red lights, so check your local laws.

Are Red LED Lights Legal on Motorcycles?

Motorcycle laws related to LED lights also vary by state. Here are some guidelines:

– Forward-facing red LED lights are illegal in most states.

– Rear-facing red LED lights are typically allowed if they meet certain requirements:

– Must be mounted near the brake light and taillight.

– Cannot be flashing or oscillating. A steady burn is required.

– Cannot be brighter than the original factory lights.

– Side-facing red LED lights may be restricted in some states.

– Always check your state’s motorcycle laws before installing LED lights.

Some common legal uses of red LED lights on motorcycles:

– Solid rear brake lights/taillights.

– Flush-mount LED strips on rear fenders, installed near factory lighting.

– Ground effect lighting, as long as the red lights are not visible from the front.

Potential Issues with Red LED Lights on Cars

While some red LED lighting setups may be legal, there are some potential issues to consider:

– Can be distracting to other drivers, especially bright flashing lights.

– May reduce effectiveness of your brake lights by making them less distinct.

– Could decrease visibility in fog if very bright.

– May be prohibited by local ordinances in some areas.

– Flashing emergency-style lights are illegal in most cases.

Safety Tips

If you do install legal red LED lights on your car or motorcycle, keep these safety tips in mind:

– Avoid flashing or oscillating lights, which can be disorienting to other drivers.

– Don’t let LED lights obstruct views of turn signals, brake lights, or headlights.

– Wire the lights properly – incorrect wiring can cause fires or system damage.

– Check regulations to determine size restrictions for any additional lights.

– Angle lights so they are only visible from the rear – not from the front.

– Make sure your lights are fully visible in inclement weather.

– Inspect lights regularly to check all connections and lighting conditions.


While red LED lights can provide a unique look, use caution when installing them on your vehicle. Forward-facing red lights are restricted for emergency vehicles only. Rear-facing red LEDs are legal in many cases if installed correctly and not flashing. Always check your local regulations first, as laws vary in each state. When installed properly and safely, certain red LED lights can be a legal accessory on your car or motorcycle. But improper installation or use may result in citations, so research the rules thoroughly before using red LED lights on the road.