Los Angeles, CA asked in Traffic Tickets, Federal Crimes, Criminal Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: Is it illegal to put up and turn on red and blue lights when in a parking lot(ralphs, movie theater). in California

If I were to put these lights up only when in the parking lot for a car show and take them down after would that be illegal in california. These would be for display purposes only and would not be used for police impersonating or pulling people over.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, it would still be illegal to display flashing red and blue lights in a parking lot in California, even if it's for a car show and you don't intend to impersonate police.

Under California Vehicle Code Section 25269, it is prohibited for any vehicle to “display a flashing amber warning light or a flashing or revolving amber warning light” except for specific authorized emergency vehicles. This law does not provide any exceptions that would allow regular citizens to display red/blue police-style lights for car shows or any other purpose.

Additionally, Section 25275 VC prohibits displaying "flashing, oscillating, or rotating" red lights as well as blue lights on vehicles, other than authorized emergency vehicles. So even having these lights turned on temporarily in a parking lot would violate California vehicle laws.

The policy rationale is that red/blue lights may confuse the public into thinking an official emergency response is happening or lead to unintended impersonation. So the law prohibits their use without proper authorization.

In summary - displaying or flashing red, blue, or amber warning lights on your vehicle would be illegal under the vehicle code, even in a parking lot car show and if not intended to actually impersonate police. The safest approach is to avoid using them.

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