Underglow lights are aftermarket LED lights placed on the bottom of a vehicle to give the appearance that the vehicle is floating. Many states have outlawed these lights or greatly restricted their use. Ohio law does have some restrictions on underglow lights, as it does on other vehicle lights, like spotlights and auxiliary lights.
A motorist violating Ohio’s vehicle light laws can be charged with a minor misdemeanor. This offense carries no jail time and a small fine, but it can become a misdemeanor with a greater classification and greater penalties if the vehicle operator gets more than one conviction in a previous year.
What Are Neon Underglow Lights?
Underglow lighting, sometimes called ground effects lighting, is nonstandard neon or LED lighting placed on a vehicle’s underbody. It helps create a halo effect, giving the impression that the vehicle is floating. Underglow lights are popular aftermarket enhancements. Some, particularly motorcyclists, believe they act as a safety feature because they make a vehicle more easily seen in the dark.
Laws around underglow lights exist because they can be a distraction leading to hazardous driving conditions. Most states restrict underglow lights to varying degrees, for example, a state will allow yellow and amber lights, but not red and blue lights, as these are the colors of lights on law enforcement vehicles.
Similarly, blinking or flashing lights are also restricted in many states based on their association with first responder and emergency vehicles.
Are LED Underglow Lights Illegal in Ohio?
Ohio state law allows aftermarket lighting on vehicles, including underglow lights, but there a few basic restrictions:
- Vehicles cannot have flashing, rotating or oscillating accent lights, unless they are emergency vehicles, roadside assistance vehicles, stationary waste collection vehicles actively collecting on the roadside, rural mail vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, funeral hearses or escort vehicles, and vehicles operated by local authorities.
- License plate lights must be white.
- Underglow lights must not be over 300 candlepower.
Unlike many other states, Ohio does not restrict the use of color on underglow lights – vehicle owners can use red, blue or any color lights they choose. However, Ohioans cannot use any colors other than white or amber on the front of the vehicle or red on the rear of it, with the exception of backup lamps, turn signals and warning lamps.
Spotlights and Auxiliary Car Lights in Ohio
Motor vehicles in Ohio can have only one spotlight and it must be aimed in a way that when another vehicle approaches, no part of its high-intensity beam can be directed to the left of the prolongation of the vehicle’s extreme left side and no more than 100 feet ahead of it.
Vehicles also cannot have more than three auxiliary lights mounted on their fronts.
Penalties for Violating Ohio Vehicle Lighting Laws
In Ohio, most traffic violations, including light violations, are minor misdemeanors. They do not carry jail time, but can have penalties of up to $150. This misdemeanor classification can change if the vehicle operator has received more than one moving violation in the previous year. In that case, the charge can be more serious and come with greater penalties.
- Burke, Meis & Associates: Ohio Misdemeanor Charges and Penalties
- Neon Laws: Ohio
- Ohio Laws & Administrative Rules: Section 4513.17 Limit on Number of Lights
- Ohio Laws & Administrative Rules: Section 4513.12 Specifications for Spotlights and Auxiliary Driving Lights
- Ohio Laws & Administrative Rules: Rule 4501:2-1-09 Motor Vehicle Equipment Standards for Lighting
- Find Law: Neon "Underglow" Lighting Laws
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.