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Barry County sheriff warns against using after-market light strips on public roads

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is issuing warnings about after-market light strips such as this LED version. Leaf said the lights are too bright, distracting and potentially dangerous for other drivers on the road. (WWMT/Cody Combs)

Designed originally for off-road use, after-market light strips increasingly found on street cars are prohibited under Michigan law, and at least one area sheriff is worried they're becoming a safety hazard.

“Legally, you’re not supposed to be taking them and driving on any road,” Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf said about the popular LED strips.

Advertised as a way to illuminate dark, off-road locations, the light bars are mounted on the rear, front and even the tops of cars and trucks. While they might be advantageous in places without street lights, pavement and other drivers, Leaf said the lights are too bright, distracting and potentially dangerous for other drivers on the road.

He also said they’re illegal under Michigan law.

“Technically, what they’re for is off-roading,” he said, noting the fine print on many light strip product packages found in stores.

Leaf said he first wants to educate the public and give warnings about his concerns regarding the lights, but he will not rule out enforcing the law in the future.

“We have to start looking at if we’re going to start writing tickets,” he said, noting that he plans to speak with manufacturers who make the LED products as well as state legislators.

Leaf also points out that covers for the light strips could be a solution, but to his knowledge, such covers do not currently exist.

“Being from Barry County, we’re a rural area, and we’ve gotten a lot of these trucks with lights on them," Leaf said. "I don’t want to be overly aggressive with this stuff, I want to educate first, and let them know, hey, you can’t be turning those lights on when you’re on any road, they’re only for off-road use only.”

Although Michigan laws do not specifically reference LED light strips, it does mandate that some additional lights “must be covered and unlit while on the roadway or within the public right of way.”


Follow Cody Combs on Twitter and on Facebook.


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