Is Underglow & Neon Lighting Legal in Texas?

Is Underglow & Neon Lighting Legal in Texas?

A lot of show cars and even some daily drivers like to spice up their rides by adding some decorative light features. While they don’t add anything in terms of a vehicle’s performance, there’s something to be said about the aesthetic beauty of a car that has a sweet color theme running all the way through it, including to the asphalt down below. As such, light-up emblems, LED strips, LED-lit wheels, and even underglow (neon lights mounted into a car’s undercarriage) are all popular accessories.

However, there’s often confusion about whether these lights are legal or not. They may look cool, but are you allowed to have these lights if you want to drive on regular streets? It’d be extremely frustrating to install an awesome new feature only to get cited for it and have to immediately remove it, so we’re here to help. Here’s a brief primer on what Texas laws have to say about these decorative lights.

The Basics

Texas is actually a remarkably hands-off state when it comes to decorative lighting—nearly everything is perfectly okay. And we say nearly everything because there are some exceptions. However, the law does not prohibit any “non-mandatory” light features. That means LED lighting, underglow, and light-up emblems are perfectly legal in most cases. As long as the lights are not flashing, oscillating, moving, or non-stationary in any way, you’re more than likely in the clear.

The Red Exception

There’s one huge exception to this law: Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Subtitle C, Chapter 547 prohibits any civilian vehicle from displaying the color red from the front. Red is generally a color reserved for emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cars, and fire engines, and it’s believed that a car which displays red on the front could be mistaken for one of these emergency vehicles, and the law wants to prevent this from happening.

That means you can’t have any red lights that are visible from the front of your car—no accent lights behind the grille, no red-colored LED emblems, and the like. While the law doesn’t specifically single out underglow, the truth is that red underglow is visible from the front of your car, and that alone could be grounds for getting cited. If you want to be on the safe side, simply choose another color besides red. Otherwise, only use your underglow when the car is parked and not on a public road.

There’s another thing to consider: it is against the law to impersonate emergency services, and because blue and green can sometimes be used by emergency personnel, it’s strongly advised you steer away from these colors. While they’re not expressly prohibited by law, you don’t want to end up in a situation where your actions could be mistaken for trying to emulate an officer. (Furthermore, and as you may have guessed, it’s illegal to have a law enforcement “christmas tree” on the top of your car as well).

Motorcycle Underglow

Motorcycles are a different world from cars, however. The law is extremely specific when it comes to LED ground-effect lighting for two-wheeled vehicles. While underglow for bikes is not illegal, you’re limited to just two colors: amber or white. Additionally, your ground lighting may not be flashing, oscillating, or have any other distracting effects to it.

Interested in installing decorative lighting in your vehicle? Let the Houston high performance experts at HP Motorsports help you wire it up! Call us at (281) 231-9950 for a free estimate!
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