Skip to code content (skip section selection)
A. Definitions: As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER: As defined in Iowa Code section 147A.1.
FIRE DEPARTMENT: A paid or volunteer fire protection service provided by a benefited fire district under Iowa Code chapter 357B or by a county, municipality or township, or a private corporate organization that has a valid contract to provide fire protection service for a benefited fire district, county, municipality, township or governmental agency.
MEMBER: A person who is a member in good standing of a fire department or a person who is an emergency medical care provider employed by an ambulance, rescue, or first responder service.
B. Prohibited Lights; Exceptions: A flashing light on or in a motor vehicle is prohibited except as follows:
1. On an authorized emergency vehicle.
2. On a vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn, a mechanical failure, or an emergency stop or intent to stop.
3. On a motor vehicle used by a rural mail carrier when stopping or stopped on or near a highway in the process of delivering mail, if such a light is any shade of color between white and amber and if it is mounted as a dome light on the roof of the vehicle.
4. On a vehicle being operated under an excess size permit issued under Iowa Code chapter 321E.
5. A flashing blue light on a vehicle upon which a blue light is permitted pursuant to subsection C of this section.
6. A flashing white light is permitted on a vehicle pursuant to subsection G of this section. (2008 Code § 17-423)
7. Flashing red and amber warning lights on a school bus as described in Iowa Code section 321.372, and a white flashing strobe light mounted on a school bus as permitted under Iowa Code section 321.373, subsection 7.
8. A flashing amber light is permitted on a towing or recovery vehicle, a utility maintenance vehicle, a municipal maintenance vehicle, a highway maintenance vehicle or a vehicle operated in accordance with Iowa Code section 321.423, subsection 6 or sections 321.398 or 321.453.
C. Blue Light: A blue light shall not be used on any vehicle except for the following:
1. A vehicle owned or exclusively operated by a fire department. (2008 Code § 17-423; amd. 2015 Code)
2. A vehicle authorized by the chief of the fire department if the vehicle is owned by a member of the fire department, the request for authorization is made by the member on forms provided by the state department of transportation, and necessity for authorization is demonstrated in the request.
D. Expiration Of Authority: The authorization shall expire at twelve o'clock (12:00) midnight on December 31 five (5) years from the year in which it was issued, or when the vehicle is no longer owned by the member, or when the member has ceased to be an active member of the fire department or of an ambulance, rescue, or first responder service, or when the member has used the blue or white light beyond the scope of its authorized use. A person issued an authorization under subsection C2 of this section, shall return the authorization to the fire chief upon expiration or upon a determination by the fire chief or the state department of transportation that the authorization should be revoked.
E. When Used: The certificate of authorization shall be carried at all times with the certificate of registration of the authorized vehicle, and the operator of the vehicle shall not illuminate the blue or white light except in any of the following circumstances:
1. When the member is en route to the scene of a fire or is responding to an emergency in the line of duty requiring the services of the member.
2. When the authorized vehicle is transporting a person requiring emergency care.
3. When the authorized vehicle is at the scene of an emergency.
4. The use of the blue or white light in or on a private motor vehicle shall be for identification purposes only.
F. Amber Flashing Light: A farm tractor, farm tractor with towed equipment, self-propelled implement of husbandry, road construction or maintenance vehicle, road grader, or other vehicle principally designed for use off the highway which, when operated on a primary or secondary road, is operated at a speed of twenty five (25) miles an hour or less, shall be equipped with and display an amber flashing light visible from the rear at any time from sunset to sunrise. If the amber flashing light is obstructed by the towed equipment, the towed equipment shall also be equipped with and display an amber flashing light as required under this subsection.
G. Flashing White Light: Except as provided in Iowa Code section 321.373, subsection 7, and subsection B3 of this section, a flashing white light shall only be used on a vehicle in the following circumstances:
1. On a vehicle owned or exclusively operated by an ambulance, rescue, or first responder service.
2. On a vehicle authorized by the Iowa director of public health when all of the following apply:
a. The vehicle is owned by a member of an ambulance, rescue, or first responder service.
b. The request for authorization is made by the member on forms provided by the Iowa department of public health.
c. Necessity for authorization is demonstrated in the request.
d. The head of an ambulance, rescue, or first responder service certifies that the member is in good standing and recommends that the authorization be granted.
3. On an authorized emergency vehicle. (2008 Code § 17-423)