In New York, you can use under glow lights only in the color white and if they do not flash or oscillate. It is illegal to install or display under glow lights (or any other light) in New York if it is any color other than white or white if they flash or oscillate.
What NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law restricts use of lights on motorcycles?
- VTL § 381 Motorcycle equipment. (See paragraph 3); and
- VTL § 375 Equipment. (See, paragraph 41. Colored and flashing lights).
NYS VTL § 381.3 restricts use of lights visible from the front of a motorcycle and states:
“Except as hereinafter provided, only a white or yellow light shall be displayed upon a motorcycle so as to be visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle.”
(The exception applies only to emergency vehicles.)
Thus, it appears a yellow headlight or other type of forward facing light, such as a fog light, is legal, despite NYS VTL § 375.41 (below).
NYS VTL § 375.41 prohibits affixing and display of lights on vehicles, other than lights required by law. This section prohibits attaching or displaying any color light other than white (except authorized vehicles). This section also prohibits attaching or displaying a light, including white, which is revolving, rotating, flashing, oscillating or constantly moving, except an amber light on a disabled vehicle which is restricting traffic.
Thus, even white under glow lights which flash or oscillate are illegal.
This photo shows one of our clients who has multicolored under glow lights on his Harley Davidson motorcycle in the Bronx. He was surprised to learn that his under glow lights are illegal and said he was never stopped or issued a ticket for them.
A Traffic Ticket/Summons for Under Glow Lights on a Motorcycle
At Full Throttle NY/NE Motorcycle Magazine’s Bike Night, a motorcyclist told me he was issued a summons by Suffolk County Police for unauthorized lights on his motorcycle, just down the block from Bike Night at the Tilted Kilt in Farmingdale.
He was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, is 77 years old and is a nice guy. He wasn’t issued a summons because he was being obnoxious. He was targeted by a Suffolk County Police motorcycle checkpoint which was stopping motorcycles on the way to Bike Night.
A few minutes later, a retired Suffolk County detective stopped by in his car to tell me that Suffolk County Police set up a motorcycle checkpoint down the road from Bike Night. Besides under glow lights, the police were also inspecting helmets.
The ticket for unauthorized lights on the motorcycle was issued for a violation of NYS VTL 381.3 because the motorcycle had green under glow lights.
The Supporting Deposition accompanying the summons stated:
“The defendant did operate the above described motor vehicle on Northbound SR110 at Schmidt Blvd., Farmingdale, NY, a public roadway, while the motorcycle displayed a green light that was visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle. The operator was not a member of the police, sheriff department, a fire department vehicle, or a EMT vehicle on an emergency call.”
While illegal, it’s likely that a police officer will not issue a ticket for under glow lights displayed while your motorcycle is parked at a motorcycle event like Bike Night.
You should not turn on under glow lights in any color other than white while riding. If you are stopped, do not state that the color can be changed or give the police officer permission to attempt to operate the light to see if it can be changed.
What are the laws concerning under glow lights in other states? One of our clients sent us a link to this website Motorcycle LED Light Laws Across All 50 States but you need to verify the information for your state because the information they give for the LED light laws in New York is definitely wrong.
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is a Partner at FRANCKEL & PLEVY, LLP Accident Attorneys at 1-800-HURT-911®; Rated 10 by Avvo; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5 star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel is well known in New York for representing motorcyclists and created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®. Mr. Franckel is also President of 1-800-HURT-911, Inc. and publishes LawyerAdvertisingBlog.com