Is going and glowing all orange legal?


By Dan Andrews

We at The Knoxville Focus are, of course, all Vols! However, some of us are a little more determined to show our Vol colors than others.

Recently, I decided to look into “tricking out” my 2011 Honda Civic with LED lights that change color. I figured it would look cool going to different high school and Vol games sporting different team colors.


Is it legal?

So let’s explore. To find out if it is legal to have non-flashing steady glow orange lights either under the car or the dashboard, I checked in with several local authorities.

According to KPD Chief Gary Holiday:

Darrell forwarded me your question regarding the orange lights in cars. According to Knoxville Municipal Code, and Tennessee Code Annotated, the only restrictions on lighting for vehicles restricts the use of red and blue lights for emergency vehicles, clear and amber blinking lights for road or utility vehicles, and blinking / wig wag type head or grill lights, or tail lights. Vehicles with continuous orange running lights, etc are not illegal.

According to the City of Knoxville Law Department via Jesse Mayshark:

Lighting on motor vehicles is generally regulated under Title 55, Chapter 9 Part 4 of the Tennessee Code and Section 17, Article VII, Division 1 of the City Code.   Primarily these include limitations on use of flashing blue, red, white or amber lights, but they also include regulations on use of glaring lights.  While a 2004 Attorney General’s opinion states that use of blue lights anywhere on a vehicle not used by law enforcement is a violation, there’s nothing to my knowledge that would prohibit someone from using orange accent lights on a vehicle, providing that they aren’t so glaring as to be a threat to others drivers or pedestrians.

According to Sam Lee, Chief Deputy of the Knox County District Attorney’s Office:

Under State Law 55-9-402 is the part of the Code dealing with Equipment Lighting and Regulations:

– Only emergency vehicles may operate emergency flashing light systems (strobe, wig-wag or other flashing lights) within the headlight assembly or grill area. {There is an exception for school buses}

– Only emergency vehicles may operate emergency flashing light systems (strobe, wig-wag or other flashing lights) within the tail-light lamp, stoplight area, or factory installed emergency flasher and back-up light area {There is an exception for a 5-second brake light that flashes then converts to continuous light}

– Only emergency vehicles, school buses, rural mail carriers may use flashing red or white (or blue) (alone or in combination) lights that display to the front of the vehicle

– Highway maintenance or utility vehicle (working in highway construction, maintenance or inspection) may operate a white, amber, or white/amber light system as long as the light system isn’t located in the tail light lamp, stoplight area, or factory installed emergency flasher and backup light area

Knox County Ordinance 62-260:

– No Red, Blue or Flashing light that displays to the front or sides of the vehicle except for emergency vehicles, school buses, highway maintenance vehicles

Knoxville City Code 17-379:

– Pretty much identical to State Law and County Ordinance

I think, based on my reading of the laws, that all orange is ok as long as the lights aren’t flashing.  The flashing part seems to be the key in every Code/Ordinance.  I would think orange headlights or taillights would cause a problem since there are rules as to what color they can be but otherwise I see no issue.


How much and how hard is it?


OK, so next I looked into creating a “clean look” for my LED set up. A “clean look” is when the LED lights are directly wired into the fuse box. Since I am not an expert on that, I went with option b.

I installed the light set up into the cigarette lighter. I got a cigarette lighter extension and hid both the cigarette lighter extension and all the wires in the glove box. I used 4pc – OPT7® Color-Smart LED Strip Kit – 16+ Multi-Color – Interior Underdash Lighting Kit.  I purchased the product on Amazon for $45.00. To add a little extra pop to my set up, since the Vols are orange and white, I added OPT7 10pc Interior LED Replacement Light Bulbs Package Set for 06-12 Honda Civic White for $15.00. I then went on Youtube and watched a few how-to videos. So for a total of $60.00 and an hour worth of work. Here are the end results.

Dan white car Dan yellow car Dan blue car

I found this to be a fun and easy project and the best part about it is that I can switch colors at different tailgating events. While I got the 16 color option, I might upgrade later on an LED system with more color options. However, I am very satisfied with the time, energy and end result for this project.