South Carolina Neon Underglow Laws

Adding neon underglow lights to your vehicle is a fantastic way to personalize your ride and make a statement on the roads of South Carolina. However, it’s essential to understand the specific regulations governing neon underglow in the state to ensure both your safety and compliance with the law. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve into South Carolina’s neon underglow laws, what’s permitted, what’s not, and how you can enjoy these vibrant additions to your vehicle responsibly.

Is neon underglow legal in South Carolina?

South Carolina’s regulations do not impose restrictions on additional vehicle lighting, which includes neon underglow. Therefore, our assessment is that neon underglow is generally considered legal in South Carolina, provided the following restrictions are adhered to:

  1. Red lights should not be visible from the front of the vehicle.
  2. Blue lights are reserved for police vehicles and must not be visible anywhere outside the car.
  3. The use of flashing or rotating lights is prohibited.
  4. License plate illumination must be white.
  5. There are no specific South Carolina laws that expressly restrict or prohibit the installation of neon underglow or other aftermarket lighting, making it generally legal for use while driving. However, it’s crucial to ensure your neon lights cannot change color to blue and that no rotating, flashing, oscillating, or fading lights are used.

South Carolina vehicle lighting laws

Here are the pertinent excerpts from the South Carolina Vehicle Code that specify regulations governing the installation of specific aftermarket lights on vehicles.

SECTION 56-5-4430. Additional parts and accessories not prohibited.

Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to prohibit the use of additional parts and accessories of any vehicle which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this article.

SECTION 56-5-4530. Illumination of rear registration plate

Either a tail lamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear registration plate […]

SECTION 56-5-4590. Color of clearance lamps, side-marker lamps, reflectors, stop lights and back-up lamps.

Front clearance lamps and those marker lamps and reflectors mounted on the front or on the side near the front of a vehicle shall display or reflect an amber color. Rear clearance lamps and those marker lamps and reflectors mounted on the rear or on the sides near the rear of a vehicle shall display or reflect a red color. All lighting devices and reflectors mounted on the rear of any vehicle shall display or reflect a red color, except the stop light or other signal device, which may be red, amber or yellow and except that the light illuminating the license plate or the light emitted by a back-up lamp shall be white.

SECTION 56-5-4700. Audible signal devices and signal lamps for authorized emergency vehicles, school buses and police vehicles; restrictions on use; effect of use

(B) Every school bus and every authorized emergency vehicle, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this chapter, must be equipped with signal lamps mounted as high and as widely spaced laterally as practicable, which must be capable of displaying to the front two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level and to the rear two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level […]

(C) All police vehicles when used as authorized emergency vehicles must be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing blue lights. In addition to the blue lights, the police vehicle may, but need not be equipped with alternately flashing red lights as herein specified, and may, but need not be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing red lights, white lights, or both, in combination with the required blue lights. The authorized emergency police vehicle lights described herein must be visible for a distance of five hundred feet in all directions in normal sunlight. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or display on any vehicle any blue light that is visible from outside the vehicle except one used primarily for law enforcement purposes.

(D) The alternately flashing lighting described in subsection (B) of this section shall not be used on any vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle. Provided, that a school bus may use the alternately flashing red lighting described in subsection (B), or red flashing lights in the rear and amber flashing lights in the front.

SECTION 56-5-4720. Use of oscillating, rotating or flashing red lights on State Department of Transportation vehicles.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 56-5-4700, any Department of Transportation vehicle may use oscillating, rotating or flashing red lights during any emergency. The Department of Transportation personnel shall determine when an emergency exists.

SECTION 56-5-4740. Warning lamps

Any vehicle may be equipped with lamps which may be used for the purpose of warning the operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing, and when so equipped may display such warning in addition to any other warning signals required by this chapter. The lamps used to display such warning to the front shall be mounted at the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable and shall display simultaneously flashing white or amber lights or any shade of color between white and amber. The lamps used to display such warning to the rear shall be mounted at the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable and shall show simultaneously flashing amber or red lights or any shade of color between amber and red.

SECTION 56-5-4830. Special restrictions on lamps; degree of intensity; red, blue and flashing lights.

Any lighted lamp or illuminating device upon a motor vehicle, other than head lamps, spot lamps, auxiliary lamps, flashing turn signals, emergency vehicle warning lamps, and school bus warning lamps, which project a beam of light of an intensity greater than three hundred candlepower shall be so directed that no part of the high intensity portion of the beam will strike the level of the roadway on which the vehicle stands at a distance of more than seventy-five feet from the vehicle.

A person shall not drive, move, or park any vehicle or equipment upon a highway with a lamp or device on it displaying a red or blue light visible from directly in front of the center of it. This section shall not apply to a vehicle upon which a red or blue light visible from the front is expressly authorized or required by this chapter.

Flashing lights are prohibited except on an authorized emergency vehicle, school bus, snow-removal equipment, or on any vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn or the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.

South Carolina Neon Underglow Laws: The Essentials

South Carolina’s laws regarding neon underglow lights aim to balance individual expression with road safety. Here are the key points you need to know:

  1. Permissible Colors: In South Carolina, neon underglow lights are generally allowed, but there are restrictions on colors. Red and blue lights are typically reserved for emergency vehicles, and their use on civilian vehicles is prohibited. However, other colors, such as white, amber, green, or purple, are generally acceptable.
  2. Placement: The law mandates that neon underglow lights should be installed on the sides of the vehicle and should not be visible from the front. These lights should not obstruct the driver’s view of the road.
  3. Flashing Lights: Flashing or oscillating neon underglow lights are not allowed on public roads. Steady, non-flashing lights are generally acceptable, provided they adhere to the color and placement restrictions.
  4. Distraction: Neon underglow lights should not be excessively bright or distracting, as they can impair other drivers’ vision or pose a hazard on the road.

Penalties for Violations

Violating South Carolina’s neon underglow laws can result in penalties, including fines or warnings from law enforcement. To avoid legal issues, it’s essential to follow the regulations carefully.

Stay Informed

Laws and regulations may change over time, so it’s advisable to consult up-to-date sources, such as the South Carolina Department of Public Safety or local law enforcement, to ensure compliance with the most current information.

Safety Considerations

While neon underglow lights can enhance the aesthetics of your vehicle, safety should always be a top priority. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when using neon underglow lights in South Carolina:

  1. Responsible Usage: Use neon underglow lights responsibly, especially in residential areas, and avoid overusing them to prevent disturbances.
  2. Regular Maintenance: Ensure that your neon lights are in good working condition and securely attached to your vehicle to prevent accidents or light malfunctions.
  3. Environmental Awareness: Be considerate of the environment and other drivers. Adjust the brightness and usage of your neon lights to avoid causing distractions or discomfort to fellow road users.

Conclusion

Customizing your vehicle with neon underglow lights in South Carolina can be a creative way to express your personality and style. However, it’s crucial to understand and adhere to the state’s laws and regulations to avoid legal troubles and ensure road safety. By following the permissible colors, placement restrictions, and other rules, you can enjoy your neon underglow lights while staying within the bounds of the law. Keep in mind that laws can change, so it’s advisable to stay informed and consult up-to-date sources for the latest regulations in South Carolina.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Underglow Lights in South Carolina:

Are Underglow Lights Legal in South Carolina?

  • Neon underglow lights are generally legal in South Carolina, subject to specific regulations and restrictions.

When Is It Legal to Use Underglow Lights in South Carolina State?

  • Neon underglow lights can be used in South Carolina as long as they comply with the state’s regulations, including permissible colors and placement restrictions.

When Is It Illegal to Use Underglow Lights In South Carolina?

  • It is generally illegal to use red or blue neon underglow lights in South Carolina. These colors are reserved for emergency vehicles. Violating these restrictions may result in legal consequences.

Is It Illegal to Install Underglow Lights In South Carolina?

  • Installing neon underglow lights in South Carolina is not explicitly illegal, provided they adhere to the permissible colors and placement regulations outlined in state law.

What South Carolina Vehicle & Traffic Law Restricts Use of Lights On Motorcycles?

  • The same South Carolina Vehicle & Traffic Law restrictions that apply to cars regarding neon underglow lights also apply to motorcycles. These regulations are consistent for both cars and motorcycles.

Are Multicolored Underglow Lights Illegal in South Carolina?

  • Using multicolored neon underglow lights, especially red and blue, is generally illegal in South Carolina. The state typically allows only specific colors.

South Carolina Traffic Ticket/Summons for Under Glow Lights on a Motorcycle

  • Violating the neon underglow restrictions in South Carolina may lead to receiving a traffic ticket or summons.

Are Under Glow Lights Legal While Parked in South Carolina?

  • Neon underglow lights are generally legal for use on a parked vehicle in South Carolina as long as they adhere to state regulations.

Are Motorcycle Wheel Lights Legal in South Carolina?

  • The legality of motorcycle wheel lights in South Carolina is subject to the same regulations as underglow lights on other vehicles.

Is the Law for Underglow Lights the Same for Cars and Motorcycles in South Carolina?

  • Yes, the same laws and regulations regarding underglow lights apply to both cars and motorcycles in South Carolina.

South Carolina Underglow law references:

South Carolina Vehicle Code, Title 56: Motor Vehicles, Chapter 5: Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, Article 35: Equipment and Identification.

South Carolina Attorney General – Law/Analysis of Neon Underglow (PDF file)

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