Undercar Neon Lights: Are they legal?

The fashion for under-car neons reached its peak several years ago, but there are still car enthusiasts who like to modify their car with neon lights. Are they legal in the UK? It's not a completely straightforward question but if you follow the rules set out in The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, you should not get into trouble. 

Here's the gist of the Regulations, but we'd recommend having a more thorough look at the whole document yourself to check any exceptions to the rules and make sure your car's neon lights aren't breaking any laws. There are various threads on motoring forums about this topic, some of which we've linked to here, but many are several years out of date now, so the official Lighting Regulations mentioned above are probably the only definitive source.

  • No vehicle should be fitted with a lamp which shows a red light to the front
  • No vehicle should be fited with a  lamp capable of showing light to rear other than a red light
  • White lights at the front are permitted 
  • Only red lights are permitted to be seen from the rear of the vehicle 
  • You can't fit green lights to your car at all (green lights may only be fitted to medical practitioners' vehicles)
  • With regard to lights which are not permitted, it makes no difference whether the light is fitted to the inside or the outside of the vehicle, if the light can be seen from the outside. This includes neon lights fitted under or to the side of the vehicle
  • Flashing or rotating lights are prohibited (except for normal indicators, lights on emergency or breakdown vehicles etc.)
  • You MUST NOT be able to see the actual tubes. As long as all you can see is the GLOW then in theory they are not causing a problem if they are not a prohibited colour but you are commiting an offence if the neon strips can be seen and could face a fixed penalty or fine
  • LED lights fitted to windscreen washer jets are generally not permitted, especially if they are any other colour than white or yellow
  • You should be able to switch the lights on and off with an independent switch.

Neon lights must not cause a distraction to yourself or other road users. To be honest, if they're turned on at all it could be said that you're distracting other drivers. Sometimes the police will take different views on the matter depending on how distracting they perceive the situation to be. 

If you are stopped by the police, be courteous and polite. If you are asked to switch off the neons we suggest that you do so or they could issue you with an order to remove them. Perhaps the best advice is to only use neon lights when your vehicle is off-road or at least stationary. 

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