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Rhode Island Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes

Rhode Island Emergency Vehicle Light Statutes

Disclaimer

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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State Overview

Before we discuss the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes, it’s important to differentiate between the emergency and warning lights, as well as define what an authorized emergency vehicle is considered to be. 

According to section 31-1-3.1 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle statutes, an authorized emergency vehicle is defined as a vehicle used by the fire department, police department, ambulances, and emergency vehicles as well as personal vehicles of volunteer firefighters or personal vehicles of volunteer ambulance drivers or attendants. Emergency lights are typically lights used by an authorized emergency vehicle on their way to or from an emergency. Emergency lights are typically white, red, or blue. 

Warning lights on the other hand are most often for commercial use. They can be any color outside of those of emergency lights. The most common colors are amber and green. These are used as well to let other drivers know that there are people working on the side of the road, or that this is a slow-moving vehicle that otherwise may impede traffic. 

Law Enforcement Statutes

Police and Sheriff Vehicles

According to section 31.24.31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes, law enforcement vehicles are allowed the use of blue or red center rotating beam lights, as well as blue or red outboard mounting lights. This applies to both local and state law enforcement agencies. These lights are specified to not alternately flash, but to flash simultaneously. They should also be visible from a minimum of 500 feet in normal weather conditions. 

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Fire and EMT

Fire Truck & Fire Chief SUVs

Fire trucks and fire chief SUVs are each considered an authorized emergency vehicle. They are permitted to use flashing emergency lights in the colors red, white, and/or alternating white lights. This is in accordance with section 31-24-31. These lights must be visible from a minimum of 500 feet in normal weather conditions. 

Volunteer Fire Fighter Vehicles

Volunteer firefighter vehicles are also considered an authorized emergency vehicle. In section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes, it is explained that volunteer firefighters are able to put red, white, and blue lights on their personal vehicles, and are generally permitted to use those lights. It’s important that these lights can be seen from a minimum of 500 feet in normal weather conditions. 

Ambulance & EMT Vehicles

Ambulance and EMT vehicles are also allowed the use of a blue light, red light, and/or white light due to the fact that they are considered an authorized emergency vehicle. This is in accordance with section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes. The visibility of this light must be from 500 feet in normal weather conditions. 

Contact Brooking so we may help you with the latest details for your state here.

Commercial and Amber Statutes

Security Vehicles

Security vehicles are permitted the use of an amber warning light as mentioned in section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes. These should be visible from 500 feet in normal weather conditions. Contact RIDOT to learn more here.

Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Tow trucks and wreckers are mentioned in section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle statutes. As employees work close to the road in order to help disabled vehicles, it’s critical to alert other motorists of their presence. A tow truck or wrecker is permitted to use amber lights that are bright enough to see from 500 feet in normal weather conditions.

Tractors

Tractor lighting isn’t mentioned in the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes. Contact RIDOT to learn more here.

Utility Vehicles

Utility vehicles are mentioned in section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes. A utility motor vehicle is allowed to use amber lights when driving and operating. The lights must be visible from a minimum of 500 feet in normal weather conditions. The Rhode Island statutes specifically mention light, water, telephone, and oil company vehicles. 

Construction Vehicles

Construction vehicles fall into section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes. They are therefore allowed the use of flashing amber lights. Contact RIDOT to learn more here.

Funeral Procession

Section 31-52-2 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes declare that vehicles involved in the funeral procession, specifically the lead vehicle, should be equipped with a minimum of one rotating amber light. 

Personal Use

Emergency Lights on Personal Vehicles

Section 31-24-31 of the Rhode Island emergency vehicle light statutes explains that personal vehicles of fire department, volunteer firefighters, and other personnel are allowed to use emergency lights if traveling to or from an emergency in an official capacity. Otherwise, the use of emergency lights on personal vehicles is not permitted for civilians. 


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