Ohio Emergency Vehicle Light State Statutes

The state has its own set of rules on what is used and allowed on emergency and public safety vehicles according to the legislation laid down in statute on a state-by-state basis. This is a look at the peculiar laws of Ohio on what constitutes the correct lighting on emergency vehicles. State statutes of Ohio have little detail about the different lights used on various emergency vehicles and public safety equipment, but what is written about the subject can be gleaned from one particular law that will be discussed in the following sections.

State Statutes Emergency Vehicle Lights

Law Enforcement Vehicles

For police vehicles, statute 4513.17 of Ohio (clause d) states that a law enforcement vehicle is equipped with red and white flashing or rotating lights. Also law enforcement officers and other vehicles involved in enforcing criminal and/or traffic law can use blue, or blue and white police lights on their vehicles along those same lines. Also those lights can flash, rotate, or oscillate.

Fire trucks

According to the same law of 4513.17 (clause d), fire trucks are either using red or red and white flashing or revolving lights. Such fire truck lights can be used during an emergency operation, along with a siren to signal visibility and warning to other on-road motorists.

Volunteer fire fighter vehicles

Volunteer fire fighter vehicles Because of statute 4511.01 (clause e), volunteer fire fighter vehicles are considered public safety vehicles when responding to emergencies and may use the same lighting as other emergency response vehicles; red, or red and white flashing or rotating lights. However, these volunteer vehicles are subject to misdemeanor when used outside of an emergency and on a roadway.


As for fire trucks, the statute of 4513.17 (clause d) states that ambulances may use the same red or red and white lights while at times accompanied by sirens. Statute 4511.01 states that, as long as they are under contract with the county or are registered as emergency service vehicles or public safety vehicles, these ambulances include private ambulance companies.

Tow Trucks

Under clause c of the Ohio Statute 4513.17, tow trucks and other such maintenance vehicles – while on the road – may use an amber light that flashes, rotates, or oscillates (have a pendulum-like, swaying pattern).

Construction Vehicles

Again, like tow trucks, statute 4513.17 (clause c) states that any type of road service and/or maintenance vehicle shall be equipped with an amber light that flashes, rotates or oscillates.

Utility Vehicles

Statute 4513.17 (clause c) also contains any type of working vehicle as an amber light is needed. It is stated, however, that alongside an amber, or amber and white light, utility vehicles can only display these lights while completing a work task. Otherwise those lights must be off.

Pilot Vehicles

Pilot vehicles (escort vehicles whose duty is to direct trucks with oversized loads or vehicle convoys for specific purposes) in Ohio are required to have horizontally attached a rotating or strobing (intermittent flashing) light to them. This light must be visible from every direction, at a distance of five hundred feet. There is no statute which specifically states this but it is recognized by the Ohio State Highway Patrol as a known regulation for such vehicles.

Security Vehicles

Using information found in Statutes 4511.01 and 4513.17, it can be assumed that such security vehicles may use amber and/or white lights when on private property, as there are no specific laws relating to security vehicles used on private property. Under these statutes, a vehicle may use such lights as to either flash, oscillate, or rotate for private use outside the commercial roads. A plausible interpretation of this rule would be to use these lights to increase visibility and safety in a private car park.

Additional Information

One of the few times when a police officer is allowed to only use a normal motor vehicle in an emergency is that these vehicle light laws are not required. Due to the response of the police officer to an emergency (Statute 4511.01) the vehicle is still considered an emergency vehicle at that time. Private medical services organizations must register those vehicles and pay certain taxes and fees in order to be considered an emergency service vehicle. In return, they obtain emergency service status and are equipped with the tags and license plates necessary to declare themselves as such (Statute 4503.49). Because of this particular process, even vehicles with the duty of transporting organ transplants can be registered as emergency service vehicles, and is also stated as such in statute 4511.01.

For more information on what strobe lights are available to you, we suggest calling your State Highway Patrol office at: 614-466-2660

*Please note that these numbers are what we can find at the moment, and the numbers may have changed since this listing.