Washington DC Neon Underglow Light Laws

Underglow is an ornamental lighting system that is very eye-catching. Because the lights are affixed to the underside of motor vehicles, they are referred to as underglow. Vehicles with such lights have an ambient halo effect.

These lighting systems utilize either neon or LED technology, and some of them come with several features. However, it’s worth noting that there are different laws in each state that dictate whether or not you can install these lights on your car.

While some states consider them illegal, others place several restrictions on their use. These restrictions and limitations pertain to the type of light, color, intensity, etc.

If we look into state-to-state variation, is underglow legal in Washington DC?

Washington DC Laws for Underglow Lights

White Nissan 350z with blue underglow lights

Washington DC’s vehicle code regulates the usage of all vehicular lighting systems. You will find the relevant rules under the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 18, Chapter 7.

These laws have no specific restriction for equipping a motor vehicle with auxiliary aftermarket vehicle lighting. Based on this, we can conclude that there are no restrictions on the usage of neon underglow.

However, there are a few stipulations to its use, and it is important that you follow them in order to avoid penalties. These include:

  • Light type: The code does not directly identify underglow lights. Instead, they have laid down stipulations for reflectors, clearance ramps, backup lamps, side marker lamps, and auxiliary driving lamps.
  • Size: Once again, the code does not reference the permitted underglow size.
    However, section number 18-711 talks about the number of auxiliary driving lamps allowed for one vehicle and their distance-based placement.
    • Based on this, you are only allowed up to two auxiliary driving lamps in one instance that must be placed at a height of 16″ and 42″ from the ground.
  • Permitted colors: The permitted colors for reflectors and other required vehicle lights are compiled under the vehicle code.
    • For instance, most rear-mounted lights have to be red in color. There was no explicit mention regarding permitted colors for neon underglow.
  • Light intensity: Intensity of any light installed on a vehicle should not be such that it creates a distraction for approaching vehicles.

Washington DC has no relevant laws that indicate whether the usage of underglow lights is permitted or prohibited.

Based on their vehicle codes, we can regard their installation as legal. However, for the sake of safety, it is recommended that you keep them unlit while driving.

Though neon underglow is not illegal, keep these restrictions in mind to avoid running into trouble. Make sure you do not install red lights on the front of the vehicle. Your registration plate should be illuminated with white light.

When using any aftermarket lights, make sure not to use flashing blue and red colors. These colors are typically reserved for emergency vehicles. Stay on the safe side and only use amber or white underglow for your vehicle.

Verify information regarding underglow lighting with local authorities before you customize your vehicle, as these laws may vary in certain counties and cities.

State of Washington D.C. Info

Flag of Washington State

Formally known as the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. or just D.C. is the capital of the United States.

Named after George Washington, the first president and Founding Father of the country, Washington D.C. is the seat of the federal government of the U.S. and many other international organizations, which makes it a very important political capital in the world.

Population: 707,109
Capital: Washington D.C.
Registered vehicles: 210,297
Total lane miles: 1,500
Number of highways: 2

Wikipedia | State Website

Underglow light law references: District of Columbia Municipal Regulations

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