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.