Is Flashing Your Lights Illegal?

Effective communication is one of the most important skills that we can all have as drivers. When traveling at high speeds, communication can determine the outcome of a situation–for better or worse.


There is one type of communication that most vehicle owners are familiar with–flashing your lights. Everyone knows how to do it, but it isn’t always clear when it is and is not legal.


In this article, we will discuss the legality of flashing your lights on the road.

Why Would You Want to Flash Your Vehicle’s Lights?

Before you can understand how to effectively adhere to the laws on flashing lights in your area, you will want to understand why you would want to flash your lights. There are many common reasons to flash your lights on the road, including:

  • As a warning to other drivers

  • To signal an emergency

  • To maintain the visibility of your vehicle

The Legality of Flashing Your Lights on the Road

Since there are so many different reasons to flash a vehicle’s lights, it should come as no surprise that the legality of this communication method can vary. In many common circumstances, flashing your lights is legal. However, state laws can vary depending on the reason you are flashing your lights. Before you decide to take this action when communicating with other drivers, be sure to brush up on local laws so you do not accidentally break them.


As a general consideration, in all fifty states, it is illegal to use LED police lights that could make your car appear to be law enforcement. The color patterns that this bans can vary by state, so research the laws before investing in LED warning lights.

Flashing Your Lights as a Warning

People will often use their standard lights, as well as LED warning lights, to give other drivers a warning. This can be beneficial if there is an accident up ahead, if there are animals on the road, or even if you spot a speed trap.


While most areas will absolutely approve of you using flashing lights to signal a potential hazard to other drivers, not all areas feel the same way about using LED warning lights to warn about speed traps. Many states, including Missouri, Florida, and California, have decided that this action is protected by free speech. However, this is not true everywhere or in every circumstance.


Local laws can vary and change, so always do your research.

Flashing Your Lights for an Emergency

Emergency situations happen without notice. From a loved one having a baby to struggling with sudden vehicle failure, there are many reasons that people rely on emergency vehicle lighting. Flashing your lights in these situations can let the people around you know that something is amiss, so they can exercise caution.


Although this approach can be helpful, it is surprisingly not legal to use emergency vehicle lighting in most places unless the vehicle is traveling well below the speed limit or is pulled over. Once again, this is an area where you will want to defer to state laws.

Flashing Your Lights for Visibility

Visibility on the road can save lives, which is why many people use emergency vehicle lighting and LED warning lights to increase visibility. This can be beneficial when you are pulled over on the side of the road, managing a car repair, or even carrying out work in an area.


As long as you choose colored flashing lights that adhere to state laws, this is a completely acceptable way to flash your lights. In most states, amber lights are ideal in this situation.

Choose Flashing Lights That Allow You to Remain in Compliance in Your Area

There is a time and a place for flashing your lights, but the legality of this practice often comes down to circumstance and the state laws in effect. To better understand when you can and can’t flash your lights, research which laws are in place in the areas where you intend to operate your vehicle. Emergency vehicle lighting is a useful feature, especially when flashing lights are used appropriately!


To learn more about compliant flashing lights and how they support drivers, visit Ultra Bright Lightz today!