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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Connecticut’s laws surrounding the use of LED lights and other forms of emergency lighting for emergency vehicles can all be found under Statutes Sec. 14-96p and Sec. 14-96q. Unfortunately, the sections are a little difficult for the average person to comprehend or understand, so we did our best to translate them for you. Please ensure that you double-check the laws surrounding vehicles in your industry before utilizing an emergency warning light or flashing light on any vehicle in your fleet.
Note: Connecticut defines an authorized emergency vehicle under Statute Sec. 14-1 (5) as:
- A fire department vehicle
- A police vehicle
- A public service company or municipal department ambulance
- An emergency vehicle designated or authorized for use as an authorized emergency vehicle by the commissioner
With some exceptions allowed by the commissioner and the respective chiefs of the fire or police department, no other vehicles are intended to be utilized as authorized emergency vehicles and may not display an emergency light.
Law Enforcement Statutes
Police, Marshall, and Sheriff Vehicles
According to Statutes Sec. 14-96p and Sec. 14-96q, a police vehicle must have at least one red light attached to the top. The specifications for the visibility of the red light were not explicitly mentioned. Generally, a red light must be flashing or revolving and visible at a distance of 500 feet, but Connecticut makes no mention of such requirements.
Although it is not explicitly said, it is safe to assume that a police vehicle or law enforcement vehicle may display a blue light. This is suggested under blue restrictions where it states that “no person other than” a police officer may display a steady blue or steady red light that is visible from the outside of the vehicle.
Although it is not immediately clear from these statutes, generally, a police vehicle is permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law to promptly arrive at an emergency scene the must do so with due regard for the safety of all others on the road and typically must use their siren or emergency lights when doing so.
Every other motor vehicle on the road must yield to a police vehicle when their red emergency lights are flashing. This means that they must either change lanes and slow down to allow the police officer to work safely on the side of the road or that they must pull off the road or highway altogether.
Fire and EMS Statues
Fire Trucks and Fire Chief SUVs
Not a lot is explicitly said about vehicles employed by the fired department. In fact, volunteer fire vehicles and the emergency lights that they would use are mentioned much more. Since fire is defined as an emergency vehicle per Statute Sec. 14-1 (5), that may be why it doesn’t go into great detail about specific laws surrounding their use of LED lights and emergency flashing or revolving lights.
That being said, emergency vehicles must have at least one red light mounted to the top per Statutes Sec. 14-96p and Sec. 14-96q. Generally speaking, the light must be visible at 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions and sunlight, but Connecticut doesn’t indicate such requirements.
A fire truck must also come equipped with a white flashing or strobe light to indicate to others that an authorized emergency vehicle is approaching and or on the scene already.
Connecticut State Statutes don’t immediately make it clear whether or not a fire truck or other authorized emergency vehicles for the fire department may disregard the posted speed limit or any other traffic law in order to promptly arrive at an emergency scene. It is likely safe to assume that they can as long as they are doing so with due regard for the safety of each motor vehicle or pedestrian on the road or highway.
Traffic is obligated by law to yield to a fire truck or other authorized emergency vehicle owned by the fired department but either pulling off the road or highway to allow for safe passage or by changing lanes to give the scene of an emergency room as they pass.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles
Volunteer firefighter vehicles received a little more attention in their vehicle statutes than what was explicitly said for an authorized emergency vehicle that is directly owned and operated by the fire department. These statutes are considered exceptions to the regulations that no person outside of public authorized emergency vehicles is permitted to use colored lighting.
According to Connecticut Statute Sec. 14-96q, a volunteer firefighter vehicle is permitted to display a blue light or other lighting as long as they obtain a permit from the chief executive officer of the fire department. They may only use it when responding to an emergency and when they are at the scene of an emergency. There are no other times that they may use the blue light.
They may also obtain a permit to use a red light that is either steady or a revolving emergency light from the commissioner.
As with police and fire, it is not clear whether or not a volunteer firefighter may use their authorized emergency vehicle to disregard the speed limit or an other traffic law, but based on their position and need, it is ok for them to do so. They must always exercise safety and caution to avoid getting into an accident with another motor vehicle.
Traffic is required to yield to a volunteer firefighter vehicle by either pulling off the road or highway to allow safe passage or by changing lanes to give the scene of an emergency adequate room to allow for safety.
Ambulance and EMT Vehicles
As a vehicle explicitly defined as an authorized emergency vehicle per Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-1 (5), an ambulance is permitted to display a red light on the top of the vehicle. There are no indicators regarding visibility distance or placement of the light.
Interestingly, there is more information regarding volunteer emergency medical vehicles than there is about ambulances and vehicles directly owned by the emergency medical company, whether public or private.
As an authorized emergency vehicle as permitted by the chief executive officer of the public or private volunteer emergency medical provider may display a steady or flashing green light while on the way to the scene of an emergency or while on scene per Connecticut Statute Sec. 14-96q.
They may also receive permission from the commissioner to display white lights on their personal vehicle that is being used as an authorized emergency vehicle.
It is not explicitly mentioned in Connecticut laws, but an ambulance is generally permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic laws to promptly arrive at an emergency scene. They must do so with due regard to the safety of each other motor vehicle or pedestrian on the road.
Traffic is required by law to yield to an ambulance by either pulling over to the side of the road or highway to allow for safe passage or changing lanes to provide ample room for emergency medical responders to work in an emergency scene.
Commercial and Amber Statutes
Security vehicles are not given any provisions under Connecticut law regarding the use of warning lights or emergency lighting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t any exceptions. Please contact your local municipalities regarding the possibility of obtaining a permit for your company.
Wreckers and Tow Trucks
A tow truck or wrecker is permitted to display a yellow or amber light or lighting that includes yellow and amber flashing lights according to Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q. They do not need to acquire any special permits to do so as long as their company follows guidelines already laid out for towing companies.
Tractors are not explicitly mentioned under Connecticut law for the use of emergency lighting. It is possible that they may qualify to use yellow or amber lighting with a permit as long as they are participating in the clearing of a hazard on the roadway per Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q.
The lights have no special placement or visibility requirements per Connecticut law, but in most states, they must be visible at a distance of 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions and sunlight.
According to Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q, a utility vehicle can display an amber light or lights that are flashing between amber and yellow if a permit is obtained by the commissioner.
Maintenance vehicles that are owned and operated by the Department of Transportation may display a green, yellow or amber light or flashing green, yellow, or amber light or any combination of the three colors.
Pilot and Escort Vehicles
Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q allows pilot or escort vehicles to display an amber or yellow warning light. These lights may be steady or flashing and can be a combination of the two lights combined. The driver or company that they represent is required to obtain a permit.
Out-of-state pilot vehicles are permitted to operate as pilot vehicles and display amber and yellow warning lights in Connecticut without gaining a new permit as long as their permit in their state is active.
A construction vehicle is permitted to display white headlamps and spotlights as long as they are not directed toward the road. Also, according to Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q, They may display an amber or yellow warning light or a combination of the two if they are actively working on the road to clear a hazard or if they themselves are the hazard. They must obtain a permit to do so.
Funeral progressions are typically covered under the same laws as pilot vehicles. Connecticut isn’t explicit about them, so you should contact your local municipalities before utilizing any lighting that may result in a fine.
If they are covered under Connecticut State Statute Sec. 14-96q as a pilot vehicle, then they may display amber or yellow flashing warning lights.
Emergency Lights On Personal Vehicles
There aren’t any special concessions or provisions for emergency lighting for personal vehicles aside from the provisions set for volunteer medical and fire authorized emergency vehicles.
If you are looking to obtain a special permit for your vehicle’s emergency lighting, visit the Connecticut DMV website for more information.
Connecticut’s laws surrounding the use of LED lights for emergency purposes are difficult to read and understand as their formatting is a wall of legalese text that requires translation for the average person. Remember that this is just an overview. You must contact your local municipalities for more information regarding your specific industry’s emergency lighting needs.