Laws on Neon Lights in Georgia

By Teo Spengler - Updated August 15, 2018
cars driving at night

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Sometimes, a car is not just a method of transportation but a hobby and even a passion. Young people, especially, love to add accents to make their cars cooler. If you fall into this category, you know what "underglow lights" are and may have installed them on your vehicle. For everyone else, underglow lights are neon lights that car enthusiasts attach to the underside of their cars to create a dramatic look. Are these lights permitted under Georgia LED light laws? They are permitted on vehicles in Georgia unless they are expressly forbidden by the law. And, some are definitely forbidden.

Underglow Lights in Georgia

Have you ever been driving down the road of an evening and been startled by weird neon lighting on the underside of a car, creating a kind of pool of colored light? Or how about eerie lights glowing from inside a car's tire rims? Whether you think they look fabulous or disastrous, they are eye-catching, to say the least. And that eye-catching quality is what caused Georgia to enact laws forbidding certain lights on cars.

When a car accessory – like underglow lights – grabs your attention as you drive by, what happens? You take your eyes off the Georgia highway and stare at the soft, eerie shades glowing from beneath the passing car. That distraction, or the possibility of that distraction, is what caused the Georgia legislature to outlaw certain types of lighting in cars.

Illegal Colors of Lights

Many states restrict using neon lights on cars in order to limit the distraction of super-flashy vehicles. Laws regulating or prohibiting neon underglow are often found in statutes called "unlawful vehicle modifications” or "lighting requirements." Georgia laws, however, do not address the distraction issue by banning neon lights under cars or on vehicle tire rims. In fact, Georgia specifically allows the installation of any aftermarket or discretionary light on a car unless it is directly prohibited by law. Therefore, underbody lights are considered legal.

However, Georgia prohibits some colors of lights, whether they are neon or not. Current Georgia law prohibits all red, blue, green or purple vehicle lighting on vehicles other than emergency and police vehicles. These colors were chosen as particularly distracting since they are shades regularly used on emergency vehicles. Thus, red lights under cars, purple neon underbody lights and blue headlights are all illegal.

Note that it is not just using red, blue, green or purple lighting on your car that is illegal. Under Georgia statutes, if your vehicle is equipped with underglow lights that can emit a variety of shades including these forbidden colors, you are violating the law. This is the case even if you always keep the lights on yellow.

Flashing Body Lights

Color is not the only consideration when it comes to the legality of underglow lights in Georgia. Vehicle lights that flash, oscillate or move at all are also illegal. This means flashing body lights of any color can get you stopped by the police and issued a ticket.

In some cases, you can apply for permits for use of revolving lights.For example, tow truck drivers and taxis in Georgia might qualify. Apply at the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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