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Louisiana Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

Louisiana Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

State Overview

Louisiana’s laws surrounding the use of LED lights are complicated to follow and are sprinkled in throughout the many subsections of Revised Statute 32. They are unique as they are one of the few states that refer to dome lighting and light beams instead of rotating and oscillating lights. The language is outdated, but the concepts are relatively the same as current LED light standards. Contact your local municipalities if you feel that you need further clarification.

Note: Louisiana Revised Statute 32:1 defines which vehicles qualify as an authorized emergency vehicle as:

  • Fire Department Vehicle
  • Private Volunteer Firefighter Vehicle Authorized by Fire Chief
  • Law Enforcement Vehicle Including Bicycles (Various Agencies)
  • Ambulances and EMS Vehicles
  • Elevator Repair Vehicles

Including elevator repair vehicles with what qualifies as an authorized emergency vehicle is unique and unusual, especially considering tow truckers, wreckers, and other DOT vehicles were omitted. Pay close attention to your industry’s laws and reference the listed statute for more information.

Law Enforcement Statutes 

Police, Marshall, and Sheriff Vehicles

The language for lighting is a bit outdated, but Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318 requires a police vehicle or law enforcement vehicle to be equipped with red signal lamps that are mounted as high as possible and as widely as practicable. The red lights must be flashing, and there must be two facing the front and two facing the rear that are all visible at 500 feet in normal sunlight. In place of having four flashing signal lamps, a police vehicle may be equipped with a larger LED lightbar that red and revolves in all directions, making it visible at 500 feet for 360 degrees around the vehicle. A blue lightbar may also be used instead of the red lightbar.

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:24 allows a police vehicle or law enforcement vehicle to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law when responding to an emergency call. The police lights must be illuminated while doing so and it is not necessarily required that an audible signal, such as a siren, bell, or whistle, be used so that criminals aren’t alerted to their approach. Emergency personnel operating the police vehicles while disregarding traffic laws must do so with due regard to the safety of pedestrians and every motor vehicle on the road or highway to prevent a car accident. 

It is required that every motor vehicle on the road or highway yield to all police cars or law enforcement vehicles when they have their emergency vehicle lights illuminated according to Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318. This is achieved by changing lanes or slowing down to provide a safe environment for stationary police vehicles or by pulling off the road or highway completely to permit emergency personnel safe passage.

Fire and EMS Statues

Fire Trucks and Fire Chief SUVs

A fire truck or fire department vehicle must be equipped with red signal lamps mounted as high and as widely as possible and be visible at 500 feet. There must be two red signal lamps facing the front and two facing the rear. It is also ok to utilize one larger red lightbar that revolves so that it is visible in all directions. In lieu of those lights, an authorized emergency vehicle operated by fire companies may use a large revolving alternating red and white light that is encased in a clear dome that is visible at 500 feet in all directions. In addition, fire department vehicles may also utilize a blue light pointed toward the rear and may only be up to 50 percent of all lighting. This is all laid out in Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318.

A fire truck or vehicle owned and operated by the fire department is permitted to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law while responding to an emergency call with its emergency vehicle lights on and while using an audible signal such as a siren, bell, or whistle per Louisiana Revised Statute 32:24. Emergency personnel operating fire department vehicles must do so with due regard to the safety of every other motor vehicle on the road or highway.

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318 requires traffic to yield to a fire truck or fire department vehicle when its emergency vehicle lights are illuminated. This is done by changing lanes or slowing down to allow emergency personnel to operate safely on the side of the road or by pulling off the road or highway completely.

Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles

It was a little ambiguous, but it appears that Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318 allows a personal vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter to be equipped with red signal lamps. There must be two facing forward and two facing toward the rear that are mounted as high and as widely as possible and must be visible at 500 feet. In lieu of the four lights, the volunteer firefighter vehicle may be equipped with a larger lightbar that is red and revolves in all directions. Double-check this information with your fire chief before installing any LED lightbars on your personal vehicle as a volunteer firefighter.

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:24 allows a volunteer firefighter to disregard the posted speed limit or any other traffic law while its emergency vehicle lights are illuminated alongside the use of an audible signal such as a siren, whistle, or bell. Emergency personnel operating a volunteer firefighter vehicle must do so with due regard to the safety of all traffic to prevent a car accident.

Traffic must yield to a volunteer firefighter vehicle while it has its emergency vehicle lights illuminated, as required by Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318. This is done by changing lanes or slowing down to allow for the safe operation of emergency personnel providing life-saving aid or by pulling off the road or highway completely to allow them to pass safely.

Ambulance and EMT Vehicles

An ambulance has identical rules and regulations to fire trucks and fire department vehicles as laid out in Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318. An ambulance must be equipped with four red signal lamps installed as high and as widely as possible, with two facing the front and two facing the rear. The red lights must be visible at 500 feet. It is permitted to replace the four lamps with one larger lightbar that is red and revolves so that it is visible in all directions. It may also have a blue light pointed toward the rear that is visible at 500 feet, but it may not provide more than 50 percent of all lighting.

Volunteer EMS may have emergency vehicle lighting installed as long as they receive a letter from the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety that is left in the volunteer’s vehicle at all times.

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:24 allows an ambulance and volunteer EMS to disregard the posted speed limit and any other traffic law while they are utilizing their emergency vehicle lights and are using an audible signal such as a siren, whistle, or bell. Emergency personnel operating an ambulance while disregarding traffic laws must do so with due regard to the safety of all motor vehicles on the road or highway to prevent a car accident.

Traffic must yield to an ambulance and EMS while they are utilizing their emergency vehicle lights per Louisiana Revised Statute 32:318. This is done by changing lanes or slowing down to provide room for stationary EMS vehicles and personnel or by pulling off the road or highway completely to allow emergency personnel to pass safely.

Commercial and Amber Statutes

Security Vehicles

No provisions or exclusions are made for the use of LED lighting on security vehicles. That does not necessarily mean warning lights or flashing lights cannot be used under any circumstances. Don’t hesitate to contact your local municipalities to see if there are any exceptions for your industry or company, as your unique situation may allow for LED light usage in some cases.

Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:327 doesn’t explicitly mention a tow truck or wrecker, but a vehicle that is tending to a traffic accident may be equipped with flashing lights to warn traffic of the safety hazard that is present. The color of the flashing lights is not indicated, but typically this is achieved with an amber LED light bar. 

Tractors

Tractors are not explicitly referenced, but Louisiana Revised Statute 32:320.1 says a vehicle may have amber flashing lights to indicate to traffic that there is a safety hazard present on the road or highway that they may need to yield to. The placement and visibility distance of the amber light is not indicated. 

Utility Vehicles

As utility vehicles are often required to stop in unsafe areas on the road or highway, they inadvertently become a road safety hazard that traffic must watch out for. As such, Louisiana Revised Statute 32:320.1 requires that an amber flashing light be used to warn traffic of the safety hazard that is present. Light placement and visibility distance is not indicated with Louisiana law. 

Pilot and Escort Vehicles

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:387.1 allows any vehicle to be used as a pilot vehicle as long as they get the proper permits and licenses. The requirements for signage is illustrated in-depth, but the use of LED lighting is not very clear. Contact your local municipalities for more information so that you remain compliant. 

Construction Vehicles

A construction vehicle may have amber flashing lights to indicate to traffic that there is a traffic and safety hazard that they may need to yield to according to Louisiana Revised Statute 32:320.1. Placement and light visibility distance is not indicated, nor are any other circumstances in which the warning lights may be used. 

Funeral Procession

No provisions are made for auxiliary LED lighting for a funeral procession. This does not necessarily mean a funeral procession escort may not use LED lighting. Contact your local municipalities for local rules and guidance.

Personal Use 

Emergency Lights On Personal Vehicles

Emergency and warning lights are permitted to be used on volunteer firefighter vehicles, volunteer EMS vehicles, and personally owned pilot vehicles pending a permit acquired for each volunteer and or vehicle.

Summary

Special Permits

Aside from volunteer firefighters, EMS, and pilot vehicles, additional special permits and licenses were not indicated in Louisiana law. If you want to use warning lights on your fleet or personal vehicle, contact your local municipalities for more information.

Takeaway

Louisiana law uses a lot of outdated language and is not very concise with the laws surrounding the use of LED lights for authorized emergency vehicles, commercial vehicles, and personal vehicles. There is some ambiguity that you need to pay attention to in order to remain compliant.

Do your due diligence and review the referenced statutes and contact your local municipalities for more clarity if necessary to remain compliant. This article is not meant to be legal advice, nor is it meant to replace Louisiana Revised statutes. If something is unclear and needs further clarity, dive deeper so that you avoid costly fees for you or your company.

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