TechnologyTell

Threat Detected: That Awkward Moment When You Have an Illegal Blue Light On Your Dash

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2013 Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector Photo Shoot 021

This image from the back of the Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector’s box doesn’t quite do justice to how bright those two upper blue lights are when they strobe on your dash at night. They’re great for getting your attention during the day — and also might be good at getting the attention of law enforcement at night, since they become far more visible in the dark. (Lyndon Johnson photo/Image courtesy Whistler)

So I was driving home with my Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector late the other night and nearly jumped out of my skin when it suddenly detected a county sheriff’s deputy approaching in the opposing lane. Then I momentarily broke out in a sweat because I realized the detector was flashing several bright blue lights.

Tennessee law says you can’t have flashing blue lights on your vehicle unless you’re a law enforcement officer. To wit, Tennessee Code Annotated puts it this way:

55-9-414. Blue flashing emergency lights on motor vehicles unlawful Exception Penalty.

(a)  (1)  Except as provided in subsections (b), (c), (d) and (e), it is unlawful for anyone to install, maintain or exhibit blue flashing emergency lights or blue flashing emergency lights in combination with red flashing emergency lights, except full-time, salaried, uniformed law enforcement officers of the state, county, or city and municipal governments of the state, and commissioned members of the Tennessee bureau of investigation when their official duties so require as defined by §§ 38-8-106 and 38-8-107.

(2)  A violation of subdivision (a)(1) is a Class C misdemeanor.

It hit me that there was a blinking blue light array going crazy on my windshield the moment the deputy passed going the opposite direction. I had a mild panic session wondering whether the deputy would turn around on me. I figured it was quite possible he was bored by a lack of action on what had been a calm night for criminal activity, if the scant radio traffic I had been hearing at the newspaper was anything to go by.

Alas, the deputy did not turn around. Perhaps he didn’t see the flashing blue light. Or perhaps he didn’t want to fool with the mundane traffic stop that would be required for issuing the ticket for this possible violation. One thing’s for sure: He did not mistake my current test vehicle  — a Habanero orange Toyota Prius C (more about it later) — for an unmarked police vehicle on an emergency call. Other than the car’s not-so-cop color code, I was also actually doing the 45-MPH speed limit at the time the radar detector lit up. Hello, World’s Slowest Police Chases?

Lesson learned: The Whistler CR90 has a button on its top that will dim or darken the lights during the nighttime hours. Use it or risk a ticket from the man.

Disclosure: Whistler provided the radar detector for testing purposes.

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2 Comments

  1. Lyndon Johnson, are you really this stupid?? Go and google a picture of the blue flashing emergency lights to see what the law is talking about.

    I read the rest of the ‘review’ articles that you posted about this device, and all I gotta say to you is that you are one poor excuse of a reviewer.

    Have a good day.

    Lola
    • Lola,

      I love that you close with “Have a good day” after trashing me as a stupid, poor excuse for a reviewer. But I digress.

      You don’t have experience with my local constabulary ticketing your friends for having blue neons in their interior that flash to the beat of the music. Nor, it sounds like, do you have ample nighttime experience with the Whistler CR90. It illuminated the central portion of my dashboard and windshield in bright blue light when left in bright mode. It was certainly brighter than some folks’ lights that I’ve seen earn them a ticket. The concern the officer in question would make a U-turn and pull me over for questioning, at the least, was real. After that, I learned to leave the CR90 in dark mode after sundown. Problem solved.

      Finally, I wonder how familiar you are (or are not) with modern police lighting. Many police cruisers in my hometown have stealth lighting that consists of little more than strategically positioned LEDs. Some of the light pods have just half a dozen LEDs in them, and depending on the viewing angle, emit not much more blue light than the CR90′s two diodes flashing in the dark.

      I’m glad you at least took the time to read the rest of the review — I’m sorry, “review” — articles I posted about the CR90 before stopping in this comment section to tear me down, though. Thanks for playing along.

      Lyndon Johnson