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  1. #1
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    Talking Possession of blue lights out of your home state.

    I have been a volunteer firefighter for several years and have the utmost respect for those in public safety.

    However, I am a police officer in a resort community where a great majority of summertime visitors are from NJ, NY, PA, etc. State law requires that possession OR installation OR operation of a blue light by anyone other than a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor, if that light is not sealed in the manufacturer's original packaging.

    I have stopped many northern volunteers (I am originally from NJ) and advised them to cover or remove their lights, but have not charged anyone. Here, volunteers use red lights on their personal vehicles. When I travel north, my light gets pulled. I expect the same courtesy here. If I saw someone turn their blue light on, there's no doubt in my mind they would go to jail (unless at the scene of an accident, etc.).

    I have seen many lightbar covers, but just as many bare bright blue 67-inch-MX9000-Edgeomatic-Strobosonic-blinking-flashing-amber-arrowed-rotating 8 trillion candlepower lightbars complete with intersection death rays riding up and down the road. The owners of such attention getting lighting equipment sometimes seem offended and suprised when they get stopped.

    Maybe I'm just jealous that the lightbar on their personal vehicle is better than the one on my patrol car... what do you think?

    If I went to NJ or NY with my volunteer red lights in my personal vehicle, would anything happen?

    [ 01-15-2002: Message edited by: obx-emt ]

    [ 01-15-2002: Message edited by: obx-emt ]


  2. #2
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    Speaking from CT/MA/NH/RI/ME, in general nothing would happen with a red light bar. Those are all legal in the right circumstances on POVs...although the conditions change from state to state.

    Occassionally MA & RI have been known to bust on persons with blue light bars, especially once outside of border regions.

    Then again, I've been pulled over four times in the last 12 years in MA (three warnings & one ticket that was thrown out)...and only one officer even asked to see my CT permit for the blue double-dashmaster.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    We run blue lights in South Dakota and Wyoming reserves blue lights for Law Enforcement vehicles.

    We remind all of our members to either remove or cover their lights if they are crossing the border. Wyoming law enforcement is understanding and normally gives a verbal warning to remove or cover the light.

    Maybe we need a post that gives the laws (authorized light colors) by state before the summer travel season starts.

    I know PA used to authorize red lights and sirens on select personal vehicles(chief officers). Has that created any problems?

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    wouldn't it be great to have a National Standard
    for light colors, of police, Fire, EMS, POV's, sherriffs etc.. etc.. ???


    Sounds good but would never happen. until then, cover it up or take it out when traveling. Maine is a hot spot for Ny/NJ/MA/CT people (only god knows why) and I've not heard of a problem with blue pov lights.

    -Nick

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    I think the drivers in MA are smart enough to know my truck with maltese cross fire plates is no police car. I have not been stopped in MA yet... don't know how I'd block my grill lights.

    I drive in RI a lot too. What color do their vollies use?

    obx-emt, maybe its time to suggest a law be drafted that allows FFs with proper permits from their state to drive through MA uncovered. With that law you could use your discretion more and skip over those with obvious fire POVs.

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    We have run into a few problems with people from NY state comming into MA to assist us. (We are right on the NY border). Mostly it seems to be the State Police. THe local cops are pretty good about it, as long as you drive in a safe manner...
    I have not had any problems in NY state with my dash mounted light. Nick, Berkshire County in MA is the same way as you up there in So. Berwick. It's pretty much the same geographically. I have relatives up in Berwick and I do have to say, it is pretty nice.
    HELL YEAH!!!
    The comments made by me are just that. Not of the Fire dept or Ambulance squad I am on.

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    We have run into a few problems with people from NY state comming into MA to assist us. (We are right on the NY border). Mostly it seems to be the State Police. THe local cops are pretty good about it, as long as you drive in a safe manner...
    I have not had any problems in NY state with my dash mounted light. Nick, Berkshire County in MA is the same way as you up there in So. Berwick. It's pretty much the same geographically. I have relatives up in Berwick and I do have to say, it is pretty nice.
    HELL YEAH!!!
    The comments made by me are just that. Not of the Fire dept or Ambulance squad I am on.

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    Anytime I travel outside of NJ or PA (I volunteer in NJ but travel to PA two days a week for work), I take my blue light off of my dash board. Red lights in NJ are only for Chief, Asst. Chief, or Captain (some departments like Rescue Squads have Captains instead of Chiefs). I did have a friend who left their blue light on when they went to NC for a trip and a trooper pulled him over, but was very nice and explained that the light needed to be put out of view. Only other thing I can suggest to avoid all this is to have "Firefighter" plates on your car to indentify you as a volunteer or paid firefighter from your state.
    Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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    OBX-EMS, I assume that means you're from the Outer Banks? This topic caught my attention because in May every year I go to... the Outer Banks for a week. I have an interior light on my car, no lightbars or anything. But it's also hardwired in at this point. (New Dodge trucks don't give the aux outlet power when the truck isn't running. Very annoying). So it's kind of hard to remove...

    I obviously wouldn't be turning it on or anything, and I do have a valid CT permit. Think it'll be a big problem, or should I try to stuff something between the lens and the windshield?

    Andy

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    RITTNER: Yes, I am located on the Outer Banks. As far as the letter of the law goes, your installation is technically illegal. I do not think that you would be cited for it by itself, but it is possible depending on the circumstances. By iteself, you very may well be stopped. If I arrest a drunk driver who is a volunteer fireman up north and he has a blue light, I would charge him with it. To avoid all question, when you visit I would say cover it up. The following is reproduced form "Law Enforcement Officers Quick Reference Guide by Steven R. Hewett" the law states:

    ---------------------------------------
    NC General Statute 20-130.0(c) -- Misdemeanor
    Did Install or activate or operate or possess a blue light in or on said vehicle and not authorized to do so by law.

    NOTE: As used in this subsection, unless the context requires otherwise, "blue light" means an operable blue light which:
    1.) Is not being installed on, held in inventory for the purpose of being installed on, or installed on a vehicle which is solely for the purpose of demostrating the blue light for sale to law enforcement personnel;
    1a.) Is designed for use by an emergency vehicle, or is similar in appearance to a blue light designed for use by an emergency vehicle; and
    2.) Can be be operated by use of the vehicle's battery, the vehicle's eletrical system, or a dry cell battery.

    Only law enforcement officers may possess or operate a blue light in a motor vehicle G.S. 20-130(b). In order to charge for possession of a blue light, it must not be in it's sealed manufacturer's oiriginal packaging.

    If light is operating and the person is not authorized to operate or possess such a light in their vehicle, the charge of impersonation of a law enforcement or other public official should also be considered G.S. 14-277.
    -----------------------------------

  11. #11
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    RAY R: Since in this state volunteer firefighters are permitted red lights, and any volunteer chief officer is permitted red lights and siren, an out of state chief would be within his legal right to possess them here, though misuse is illegal.

  12. #12
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    Wink

    As far as lights go in personal vehicles go I personally see no need for them. I could get into a long winded explanation but won't. I can't understand why some one would go to the extreme of having more or better lights than a polce car. Especially if you're a volunteer. If yer on a paid/carreer dept you shouldn't need one at all. When permitted in your jurisdiction a simple dash light or what ever should be sufficent anyway. As far as being off duty it should be outta sight and put away. If on holidays it should be left at home. What on earth would you need it for in another state?

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    Phyer Phyter: I'm on an on call dept. in Michigan where the law says FF's can run lights and sirens. The lights must be red and be able to be seen in 360 deg. vision. I'm required by my dept. to run direct pov to all alarms, fire or medical being a Captain. The law is a state law. I have never had any trouble traveling in othes states. In the states where people have problems don't they have more important crime maters for the police to handle than to pull F.F. and EMT's over?


    Stay Safe

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    In Illinois most VFD have Blue lights, but if you go to Chicago it better come down. For one only Police can have blue lights in their cars, plus you go to the wrong side of town in Chicago that blue light may become a target.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

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    QUOTE: "In the states where people have problems don't they have more important crime maters for the police to handle than to pull F.F. and EMT's over?"

    CAPT 49-4: Since a major part of my job is traffic enforcement, NO I really don't have anything better to do at that particular time. If I did, I wouldn't be stopping people with blue lights. Plus it's an arrestable offense! It's a misdemeanor, not an infraction.

  16. #16
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    Thumbs down

    Something is telling me not to get in this thread but...
    I'm sure most public safety folks are familiar with the given statutes in the state for which they're employed. That being said, whatever happened to "professional courtesy"? I was a vollie about 15 years ago, and had one of those small "Kojak" dashlights I used when responding from home to station. BTW, in those young years it seemed "cool", now it would simply be frightening. That same dashlight sits in my trunk today not in "manufacturers packing", but in the event I happen across a night time vehicle accident or such. It goes without saying that the light would never be used in a moving vehicle as my POV is certainly not an emergency vehicle, but rather that little light would afford me a higher visibility on the scene of such an accident. Now, from seeing the mentality of many previous posts, some would instantly call me a Rescue Randy. This couldn't be farther from the truth. I live in rural Kansas, and there are as much as 20 to 30 minute response times from the nearest county EMS in some of the more distant places in my home area. Yes, I carry a modest BLS trauma kit in the car also. I can find no one in conversation that would refuse care from a passing paramedic given that there may be a significant wait on an ambulance. I would only hope that the same care be afforded to my wife or children in that event. I've stopped at such a scenario maybe 3 or 4 times in the past couple of years. There have been various state troopers & county sheriff's eventually show up at these events, and I have never received a citation, been arrested or even been questioned about maintaining a safe scene. Sorry for such a long reply... I'm positive that there are people out there playing Starsky & Hutch with emergency lights, but used correctly, they are simply another weapon in our safety arsenal. Be Safe...
    Brian Rowe
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    Hrm. Well, when I head down in May I'll stick a little piece of cardboard in the lens and hope nobody notices. Like I said, having just finished wiring it direct to the battery, it's kind of difficult to take in and out now. But I suppose as long as nobody thinks its a giant radar detector I should be OK.

    Andy

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    RITTNER: RADAR detectors are illegal in Virginia, not NC.

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    MEDIC162: I don't have a problem with volunteers having lights, I have them myself, some would say overboard! I have a problem with people disregarding state laws when they travel.
    "Professional courtesy" is definitely extended by issuing a verbal warning instead of citing or arresting.

    [ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: obx-emt ]


  20. #20
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    I am currently a student out in CT and a volunteer fireman in NY. I have a dash light that is illegal being it has blue/clear lens on it. Every so often I travel between school and home and have my light on the dash. To date I have never had a problem with the light on the dash. Passing police officers and driving behind them with NY plates in CT does not seem to bother them at all. Although while in a police unmarked vehicle with red lights, radio and siren, coming back from work was ticketed for speeding in CT so if they are willing to do that then who knows what else they will write you for.

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    In SC, fire & ems run red lights, including on POV's. One of the vollies at a station I used to be assigned to had a full sized Jetsonic red and white light bar on his truck. he got stopped somewhere up in the northeast going home one Christmas, and even when he explained to the Trooper why he had it on his truck, the Trooper made him drive to the local State Police office and remove the lightbar from his truck. A bit extreme, but it followed the letter of the law.

    In another light problem, law enforcement here uses blue lights. Back when I dispatched, the center I worked for provided dispatch services for several local PD's. One night, one of our small town officers attempted to stop an out of state car on the Interstate for about double the posted limit. After a 15 minute chase, the car finally pulled over. When the driver of the car was asked " Didn't you see the blue lights and hear the siren?" he said " Yeah pal...I figured you were some crazy As$ vollie fire nut." He ended up with a healthy ticket, because as you all know...ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    If you have lights and are traveling...you really need to check into the laws of the states you will be driving in.

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    While on the side of the road is no place to try and educate someone.

    One previous poster state "blue lights as alowed by law" Well it's called recipical agreements. That mean if your vehicle and it's equipment is legal in your state it's legal as you travel.

    To say otherwise would mean if you are from a state that only uses a rear licens plate but travel to a state that uses front and rear they can write you. I think not. Another good example would be window tinting. What is allowed varies widely state by state. I travel a great deal and never have had any problems. I do have state issued FD tags on my truck

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    In response to TRK4, actually, that sort of reciepcal thing doesn't affect lights on vehicles like license plates. How do I know? My partner at work has a blue/blue Dashmiser, and went up to a few miles north of Galena, IL into Wisconsin and had a ..... altercation with a WSP trooper. Never. Ever. Make. One. Of. Them. Mad. I've heard horror storries about WSP.

    Anyways, back on the subject, they can, and will ticket you for having illegal light colors. Why? If you don't have a front plate in Illinois, then most cops here won't care. People aren't going to cause problems because they don't have a front plate.

    Red/Blue/InsertColorHere lights however, vary from state to state. If I pull up behind you in IL with a red light, you better pull over and prepare for a ticket. If I pull up behind you in my car with my blue light, pfft, it's a courtesy light (so everyone thinks.. it's not defined under IL law. :>). People can cause problems with the wrong colored lights.

    I personally use a Whelen Flatlighter strobe and a pair of wig-wag headlamps. Unless you look inside my car to see the strobe on the visor when it's folded up, or open my hood to see the flasher, you'd never know I had 'em.

    Who's fault is it when you have a MX99999 with death ray intersectors? Ignorance is no excuse.

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    TRK-4: I don't want to turn this into a police-fire ****ing match, but I beg to differ. Where else would you like me to inform people that they are in violation of law than on the side of the road? This mentality is typical... I catch more flack over warnings... and the only complaints I've received were after issuing warnings.

    ESDA-20 is absolutely right and there's no comparison between plate and blue lights... and if your tint is illegal in NC, your tint is illegal in NC. Likewise with blue lights.

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    Again being from Illinois window tint is illegal on the doors, but if you are from another state it is accepted, it is permanent so how can you say take it off while you are in this state.
    Likewise with my lights they are all wired direct to the battery, cold day in hell before I would take them out of my car to please a law in another state I would pay the ticket. But, in interest of not getting a ticket I have enough wire that my dash light can come down and my deck lights can be turned so you can not see the lights at all, that crap about it being in a package is B.S.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

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