South Carolina Statutes

South Carolina Vehicles Permitted to Use Emergency Vehicle Lights


Authorized emergency vehicles defined.

(A) Authorized emergency vehicles for purposes of this section include the following:

(1) fire department vehicles;

(2) police vehicles;

(3) ambulances and rescue squad vehicles which are publicly owned;

(4) vehicles of coroners and deputy coroners of the forty-six counties as designated by the coroners;

(5) emergency vehicles designated by the fire department or the chief of police of a municipality;

(6) county government litter enforcement vehicles used by certified law enforcement Class 3 litter control officers;

(7) Department of Natural Resources vehicles, federal natural resources vehicles, and forestry commission vehicles when being used in the performance of law enforcement duties;

(8) public and private vehicles while transporting individuals actually engaged in emergency activities because one or more occupants belong to a fire department, volunteer fire department, police department, sheriff's office, authorized county government litter enforcement office, rescue squad, or volunteer rescue squad;

(9) county or municipal government jail or corrections vehicles used by certified jail or corrections officers, and emergency vehicles designated by the Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections;

(10) vehicles designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Environmental Control when being used in the performance of law enforcement or emergency response duties; and

(11) federal law enforcement, military, and emergency vehicles.

(B) Only authorized emergency vehicles and private security patrol vehicles regulated by the State Law Enforcement Division are allowed use or display of any blue lights or red lights. This includes light bars and smaller lights such as dash, deck, or visor lights. To "display" means to be seen, whether activated or not.

(C) A vehicle shall not display the word 'police' unless it is an authorized emergency vehicle for use only by sworn police or other officers who are approved and certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.

(D) The provisions of this section do not apply to automobile dealerships, to police equipment suppliers that sell, deliver, or equip police vehicles to or for a law enforcement agency, to vehicles owned solely as collector's items and used only for participation in club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, and similar uses, or to persons designated by an agency owning such a vehicle to drive the vehicle or drive an auxiliary vehicle transporting such a vehicle.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-216; 1952 Code Section 46-216; 1949 (46) 466; 1975 (59) 76; 1978 Act No. 461 Section 1; 2004 Act No. 285, Section 1.



(A) Every authorized emergency vehicle shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this chapter, be equipped with a siren, exhaust whistle, or bell capable of giving an audible signal.

(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, and these lights must have sufficient intensity to be visible at five hundred feet in normal sunlight. However, vehicles of a fire department or funeral home when equipped with a mounted, oscillating, rotating, or flashing red light, visible in all directions for a distance of five hundred feet in normal sunlight, are not required to have additional signal lamps.

(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.

(E) The use of the signal equipment described herein shall impose upon drivers of other vehicles the obligation to yield right-of-way and stop as prescribed in Sections 56-5-2360 and 56-5-2770.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-544.1; 1966 (54) 2567; 1967 (55) 131; 1970 (56) 2320; 1979 Act No. 43; 2003 Act No. 65, Section 1.



Use of mounted oscillating, rotating, or flashing red light by wreckers.

Wreckers may use a mounted oscillating, rotating or flashing red light only at the scene of accidents.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-544.2; 1970 (56) 2319.

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