Ok, Code 3 lights 101: blue, red, green, purple and amber/yellow are restricted.
First, my experience is 99% Georgia and one percent New Jersey/New York, and this is for informational purposes only. Code 3 lights are highly regulated and there can be extremely severe penalties for misuse, mostly with the red and blue lights. Absolutely check with your local law enforcement or your state department of Public Safety before even thinking about using these kinds of lights.
“Code 3“ refers to the section in the law that covers these lights in most states. In Georgia, there are five regulated light colors: blue, red, green, purple and amber/yellow.
I think everyone knows blue lights are police. If you display a blue light on your car, even if you didn’t do anything with it, in Georgia it is a felony with a $1000 fine minimum.
Red lights are fire/ambulance/emergency response. I’m not sure of the penalty, but I’m sure it’s similar. Note, my third brake light interrupter (three quick, three slow and then constant brake light) technically falls under this law as a flashing red light, but I think something like that would only be enforced if you were doing something crazy with the vehicle.
Green lights are also typically police, fire, ambulance or emergency response vehicles that act as incident command centers or such. While they can be independent, they are usually coupled with blue, red and amber. Green is used to identify the center of operations in a larger response. Oddly, Greene can also be licensed to security operations in a mall or a large office complex or such. Can you imagine those guys in charge of a real emergency?
Purple lights are for funeral Directors for a funeral procession. The lead car/hearse has to have the two dollar a year permit, and cars in the procession can display purple lights temporarily, only during the procession.
Just about anybody who has any reason to slow down or stop in traffic, or do something strange in an intersection (legally) can get the two dollar per year permit in Georgia for the Amber strobes. At no time does displaying the lights allow you to break any traffic law or any law. I’m not even sure if initial applications are reviewed for anything more than the applicant stating the reason why he or she might want them, which is always based on interfering with the flow of traffic for a public safety purpose.
Just a point, white strobe lights are not regulated by color, but they are regulated by the type and kind of lights you’re allowed to put on any vehicle. If you have a white strobe light, it won’t be illegal because of the color, it will be illegal because cars are only supposed to have headlights, tail lights, etc. That is another section in the law that I suggest you review if you’re going to do the crazy stuff I do. Half of my lights would be illegal in New York or New Jersey if the truck was registered there. And if I use them in New Jersey, I can also be fined, but I don’t have to remove them to travel into New Jersey with a Georgia license plate. It’s very common for white lights to be intermixed with any of the other colors simply to make them brighter and more noticeable. In such cases they will be covered by the code 3 light color permit.
A traffic advisor bar is the same as a traffic annunciator bar, I think I brought “annunciator“ back from Africa or England when I worked there. And again, I advise always buying one with one of the controllers that displays the light pattern in the cab. You can save about $25 by having a controller that simply has an on off switch, with another button to scroll through the flash patterns. Yeah, you know, it’s never set at the one you need in an emergency and who wants to step out of the vehicle in traffic to see if the light is flashing correctly.
There are a lot of versions. They range from 12 inches to 6 feet. This is what I found pretty quickly on eBay:
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These are plenty bright. The ones with the COB LED lights are even brighter, but they cost about 50% more. I’ve had a bar on BIG Red for 30 years. It has halogen bulbs that I am about to change to LEDs. The Missing Linc has COB LEDs, alternating Amber and White. The Lincoln‘s and the Road Ranger all have regular LEDs.
If you’re a good Samaritan and you stop in traffic, I’d be pretty amazed if you could get in trouble assuming it’s a real hazard. Whatever you’re thinking is, if you’re stuck in traffic, don’t even dream of going down the shoulder with the lights on to bypass the traffic unless you have a very good public safety reasons. You get the idea.
Finally, while I am not a sheriff, I am in the Georgia Sheriff’s Association. That ID card is glued to my license if I have to step out of the car for an officer. I have never really needed it to get out of trouble, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt.
Did I mention check with the Department of Public safety in your state?