Driving You Crazy: How can people drive with these super bright LED light bars on their vehicles?

What's the legality about using them in town?
Posted at 6:21 AM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 08:30:17-04

Steve in Denver writes, “What is driving you crazy? This new trend of guys mounting these strips of hundreds of bright LED lights either on the front bumper or roof and driving down the streets and highways.  Really?  I can understand using them off road, but wonder what the legality is concerning using them in town.  So bright!  Too bright!”

I too have seen and been ahead of drivers who have these auxiliary light kits. Even though I need all the light I can get for these tired, aging eyes to read, I don’t need that much light blasting me in my rear view mirror. My wife told me when a vehicle with lots of lights pulls up behind her, she feels quite intimidated.

According to Colorado law, there are specific limitations to the number of extra lights you can put on your vehicle and to the types of lights that can be turned on while you are driving.  As a general rule, any after-market light installed on a vehicle must be non-glaring and are basically limited to white. At no time are, red, blue and green lights allowed. More on that in a bit.

Colorado law states you cannot have more than a total of four lamps on the front of a vehicle lighted at any one time projecting a beam of an intensity greater than three hundred candlepower when on a highway. This includes standard equipment and auxiliary lighting.

Sergeant Rob Madden with Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs cites statute 42-4-212 that prohibits a motorist from illuminating more than two head lamps, two fog lamps, two spot lamps, two auxiliary passing lamps, and two auxiliary driving lamps. The actual wording of the statute is more specific about the direction, beam intensity and placement of these additional lights on each vehicle.

In that statute there are several references to section 42-4-216. Much of that describes how a driver should turn on and off the auxiliary lights and how far they should shine in the distance.

If a driver is pulled over for what law enforcement determines is a violation of one of these statutes, they will be given a ticket that caries different penalties depending on the violation. According to Denver attorney Ross Koplin both Colorado Class A and Class B traffic infractions are considered civil matters rather than criminal matters.

“Typically the only penalties that may be imposed upon a conviction of an individual for a traffic infraction is a fine, court costs and, in the case of Class A traffic infractions, penalty points reported to the Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles. Class B traffic infractions are much less frequently issued, only for the most minor traffic related matters, and do not carry the imposition of penalty points reported to the Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles.”

 MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

When it comes to all the disco colors that you might want to put on your vehicle, Trooper Chris Beaverson says green, red and blue lights are all illegal for different reasons. Colorado State law says green lights may only be used at a single designated command post at any emergency location or incident.

“This means only the highest ranking law enforcement, medical or commanding supervisor responding to an emergency incident is allowed to display a green light on their vehicle. If you are not an incident commander, you are not allowed to display any kind of visible green light on the exterior of your vehicle,” said Beaverson.

Trooper Beaverson says as for red or blue lights, that is a much more serious offense.

“If a red light or blue light is visible to the front of the vehicle, regardless if it is coming from the interior or exterior, it is a violation. If you are contacted by law enforcement for this violation, you can be cited for "knowingly possessing a vehicle with a red or blue light," which is a class 1 misdemeanor and a summons into court.”

Exempted from this statute include personal vehicles driven by volunteer fire and EMS.

If you see someone driving with all their lights on down a road or highway, you can always give police a call.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunesSoundCloudStitcher or Google Play