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View Full Version : law regarding old ambulances?

02-21-10, 06:44 PM
Hi, all. I was wondering if anyone knows what the laws regarding old ambulances are, specifically concerning the "vintage" units. To my understanding, when a unit is completely retired from service, it has to be stripped of all markings/lights that would signify it as an emergency vehicle (at least that's what happens to the units with the two services I work for).. But I have seen old Cadillac station wagon ambulances with full markings/lights. Are they exempt because those types of ambulances haven't been legal since the 70's, because of a vintage status, or just because they haven't been caught? This isn't a state specific question, but I am in Kansas. I'd appreciate any input, and if this question has been posed elsewhere on the forum, I apologize--I didn't find anything related during a search.

Thank you, and I greatly appreciate the LEOs taking time to answer questions!

02-21-10, 07:52 PM
You've seen them? As in just driving around town? Or as in on your way to the vintage car show?

I think this is a case where the letter and the spirit of the law diverge. Those old ambulances, by the letter of the law, are probably illegal.

However, if a 70's station wagon with can lights came up behind you, would you yield to it? I wouldn't, because I know there's no way that could be a legit ambulance, and I suspect most would react the same way.

02-21-10, 07:58 PM
I saw an antique police car once that was privately owned. The lights were not operational (I assumed to comply with the law).

02-21-10, 09:37 PM
This is the only station wagon ambulance I've ever seen:
http://image.hotrod.com/f/11226411/hrdp_0811w_21_z_2008_sema_day2+ghostbusters+ecto_1 +side_view.jpg

OK, now that I've hijacked the thread (sorry, couldn't help myself) I'll return it to it's origional topic...

I've never seen one on the road, just at car shows. Now, they had to get to the car show somehow. Personally the only reason I would give someone flak for driving one on the road would be if they were trying to use the lights or siren.

02-22-10, 10:19 AM
I think this is a case where the letter and the spirit of the law diverge. Those old ambulances, by the letter of the law, are probably illegal.

:iagree: It would depend on how old as to whether or not I (or most cops) would turn their head.

As far as an ambulance, I don't think it would be illegal in Oregon IF the lights are disconnected. There is a statute in Oregon (I'm too lazy to look it up) that exempts vehicles over something like 40 (I think) years old from a lot of vehicle laws.

02-22-10, 06:26 PM
Thanks for all the replies! I have only seen one in person, driving on the interstate (never personally been to a car show). That, coupled with seeing a blog about a roadtrip across the country with a fully decked-out (restored decals, working lights and siren) Cadillac high-top ambulance, prompted the question. The blog had several pictures up with the unit lit up on the highway--they even had one taken with a highway patrol officer.

There's also the case with San Francisco's Bayshore Ambulance service, which offers a "red blanket" trasnport, using fully outfitted Cadillac ambulances from the 70's, for long-distance transports (you can read about it and see pics on their website).

As for people pulling over for an old station wagon, I can't get people to yield to me in a brand new ambulance as it is :P