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  • Questions about driving a Black & White former PD car in California

    Hello,

    My business partner and I recently purchased a black and white ex-police car from a car dealer. The car has working spotlights, but the decals and other police equipment have been removed (no light bar). The dealer had bought the car from a police auction.

    The appeal of this car to us was the price ($2000) and it was in great shape, these cars run under a lot of abuse. We work doing home repos so it comes in handy when we have to evict people (they wont answer the door to anyone in a nice car).

    I have taken the car to the local sheriff's office here and they advised it is totally legal to drive as-is. I even had a watch commander agree and wrote their information down for us. I also spoke to several CHP officers at the local range and they agreed. I was also told that the spotlights can stay on the car provided they are in the down position and not used.

    I was pulled over once by a sheriff deputy and he was insistent that the car needed to be painted another scheme. He didnt write a fix it ticket, only warned that it needed to be painted. This was the second day we had the car and there were no plates on it since we dont have them yet.

    So, I am not interested in other state's laws, since this will only be driven in CA. If you are a police officer in California, what do you think? We have no intentions of impersonating an officer but it will be costly to repaint the car (close to the cost we paid for the whole car).

    Are there any known court cases in CA where anyone has been stopped and car impounded, prosecuted, etc? We want to stay out of trouble, but i would like to also know how is it that these depts can sell cars like this at auction, then turn around and say it has to be painted?

  • #2
    CVC Section 27604 covers former police vehicles and requires the markings to be removed prior to operating on a highway. Looks like you've got that covered...

    However, CVC Section 27605 states:

    No person shall own or operate a motor vehicle painted in
    the manner described in Section 40800 to resemble a motor vehicle
    used by a peace officer or traffic officer
    on duty for the primary
    purpose of enforcing the provisions of Division 10 (commencing with
    Section 20000) or Division 11 (commencing with Section 21000)
    pursuant to Section 40800.
    The provisions of this section shall not apply to vehicles which
    are painted one solid color or to vehicles first registered on or
    before January 1, 1979. These provisions shall not apply to vehicles
    which are any of the following:
    (a) Owned by vehicle manufacturers or dealers.
    (b) Used by law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of the
    provisions of Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000) or Division
    11 (commencing with Section 21000).
    (c) Owned by persons or companies who use the vehicles exclusively
    for movie or television production and display signs stating "movie
    car" prominently on the doors.
    (d) Owned by persons or companies who use the vehicles exclusively
    for funeral escort purposes.
    (e) Motorcycles, as defined in Section 400, without insignia.


    And in case you were wondering, CVC Section 40800 :

    40800. (a) A traffic officer on duty for the exclusive or main
    purpose of enforcing the provisions of Division 10 (commencing with
    Section 20000) or 11 (commencing with Section 21000) shall wear a
    full distinctive uniform, and if the officer while on duty uses a
    motor vehicle, it must be painted a distinctive color specified by
    the commissioner
    .

    So unless you fall under one of the exemptions listed, it looks like it's time to call Earl Shibe for that $99 paint job....

    Now as far as your Court Case question goes, the answer is Yes. I've cited people for driving old police cars that were still stickered, and also those driving a former (auctioned) police car with the DISTINCTIVE PAINT SCHEME (aka: Black & White). No vehicles were impounded, and the only "Prosecution" was the cite for the infraction based on the two code sections I refrenced above...

    In these hightened days of Post 9 -11 anti-terrorism awareness, I can tell you with some certainty that you will be pulled over sooner or later. It's no secret that one terrorist tactict is to aquire vehicles which mimic first responder vehicles and to use those to deliver thier IED's into areas that might otherwise be restricted.

    And it isn't the auction house's job to tell you what problems you may have with the car after the fact - they just want to make their money. It's like the companies that import used Japanese engines & transmissions. Legal to sell, buy, own, etc... But NOT legal to USE in California due to emissions laws/rules/regulations. The companies are not bound to tell you that. Your car is legally sold/purchased/owned. But you can't legally USE it on a public highway without bringing it into compliance.
    Last edited by andy5746; 11-18-2008, 11:48 PM.
    LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK CHEAP BEER!

    Comment


    • #3
      thanks for the response and information Andy. i bought the car from a dealer and not directly from an auction house, but i am wondering why its ok for a police dept to sell a car, then turn around and say that car is illegal to operate if it stays painted black and white.

      a few questions come to mind:

      1. why then have i had a supervisor and watch commander of the sheriff dept here along with chp officers tell me it is ok to drive? (i.e. is this a gray area that's up to the officer's or depts' interpretation?)

      2. what's stopping me from putting magnetic signs on the side of the car that prominently display "movie car" and would that make this car less of a target? it certainly would be under those exemptions.

      3. what is the worst that will happen if the car is left the way it is, an infraction or "fix it" ticket to paint the doors?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chris7 View Post
        1. why then have i had a supervisor and watch commander of the sheriff dept here along with chp officers tell me it is ok to drive? (i.e. is this a gray area that's up to the officer's or depts' interpretation?)
        They made a mistake. California has several hundred thousand laws on the books that are contained in 29 different codes, You can find them at http://info.sen.ca.gov/cgi-bin/pageq...ornia+Law&sb=y It's impossible to remember every single one by heart.


        Originally posted by chris7 View Post
        2. what's stopping me from putting magnetic signs on the side of the car that prominently display "movie car" and would that make this car less of a target? it certainly would be under those exemptions.
        Remember, under that exemption the vehicle must be used "exclusively" for movie or television production. That means no driving for other use. I have never seen one of those vehicles driven on the road. They have always been transported to the movie site on a flatbed or car carrier. Because it is not fully equipped (light bar, siren, decals) and you are driving it, you will probably be stopped and asked for a business card from your movie car rental business along with the location of the shooting site you are driving the car to/from. The officer will also want to see a copy of the contract for use of the car on that date. He will also ask you why a movie company would rent a car that is not fully equipped. No doubt you will quickly learn that giving the cops a BS story just so you can drive your black and white ride around will earn you extra scrutiny, a warrant check, a thorough safety inspection, and a citation for as many violations as can be found (assuming they don't find something to take you into custody for).

        Originally posted by chris7 View Post
        3. what is the worst that will happen if the car is left the way it is, an infraction or "fix it" ticket to paint the doors?
        Don't hit your head when you step into the back seat of my black and white.

        In a previous post you said you work doing home repos and that driving the black and white comes in handy when you have to evict people. Clearly you are using the vehicle to create the impression you are the police in order to seize or levy property, or dispossess others or tenements. Section 146 of the Penal Code calls this Impersonating a public officer. Impersonation is a bookable offense. No doubt your car will be deemed an instrumentality of the crime and will be impounded as evidence.

        There is also another issue you may not be aware of due to your age. Back in the 1940s, a man by the name of Caryl Chessman was dubbed the Red Light Bandit after committing a lengthy series or robberies and rapes. He would follow people in their cars to secluded areas and display a red spot light, tricking them into thinking he was a police officer. When they opened their windows or exited their vehicle, he would rob and, in the case of several young women, rape them. Even though that was more than 60 years ago, what he did was so horrible that it still sticks in the mind of most California cops today, and few if any breaks are given to people who look like they are impersonators.

        In short, the section Andy quoted would appear to have been written specifically for someone like yourself. Don't screw around. Go see these folks - http://www.earlscheib.com/index.php
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

        Comment


        • #5
          You said yourself you just need a cheap car, so who cares what it looks like?

          Go to your local hardware store and by 2 cans of 99 cent primer. Problem solved......
          Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
          --Winston Churchill--

          "Si vis pacem, para bellum"

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't do it. Also what the heck do you mean by home repo's and evicitions. YOU can not legally evict anybody from their residence. That is a Sheriff's function after proper court action. So if you are going around evicting people from their residence and you want to use a black and white car to do it you will most likely find yourself in custody on an impersonation charge.
            Today's Quote:

            "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
            Albert Einstein

            Comment


            • #7
              but i am wondering why its ok for a police dept to sell a car, then turn around and say that car is illegal to operate if it stays painted black and white.
              because they sell the vehicle on the assumption that the buyer will take the responsibility of painting the car properly, and it is possible that the buyer really wants a car for legitimate movie car, etc. Also, sometimes small, low budget departments buy their cars second hand from larger departments. There are numerous reasons why, mainly because they don't HAVE to, so why should THEY spend the money to have it repainted. That's why you get the car so cheap, so YOU can take care of that.

              Just go to Macco and pay the couple hundred bucks they want for the cheap basic paint plan and you're done.
              Sheriff: We just take turns being the sheriff. It's real easy. You just hang out here, eat some pie, and get drunk.
              Peter Griffin: Wait. Hold on a second. "Pie," "drunk," "the?" You got yourself a sheriff!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mdrdep View Post
                Don't do it. Also what the heck do you mean by home repo's and evicitions. YOU can not legally evict anybody from their residence. That is a Sheriff's function after proper court action. So if you are going around evicting people from their residence and you want to use a black and white car to do it you will most likely find yourself in custody on an impersonation charge.
                correct, i was referring to a "cash for keys" program and beginning the eviction process (which we CAN legally do as agents for the banks), NOT physically evicting people or seizing property. sorry for the confusion. mainly the car would be used when delivering said paperwork and initial occupancy status, we are not involved in physically evicting the tenants/former owners.

                Comment


                • #9
                  By a couple cans of Krylon and spray paint it!!! You already said no one answers the door for nice cars anyway. Cant think of anything crappier than a retired police car spray painted!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    thanks gentlemen for the feedback

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chris7 View Post
                      correct, i was referring to a "cash for keys" program and beginning the eviction process (which we CAN legally do as agents for the banks), NOT physically evicting people or seizing property. sorry for the confusion. mainly the car would be used when delivering said paperwork and initial occupancy status, we are not involved in physically evicting the tenants/former owners.
                      That's better Chris. We call that articulation and is huge in law enforcement. By the way I know "cash for keys" is a business decision for the banks but it always reminded me of agencies that cash out lawsuits just to make them go away. This type of "business" only encourages others to hold banks/agencies hostage to paying out cash for no good reason.
                      Today's Quote:

                      "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
                      Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chris7 View Post
                        correct, i was referring to a "cash for keys" program and beginning the eviction process (which we CAN legally do as agents for the banks), NOT physically evicting people or seizing property. sorry for the confusion. mainly the car would be used when delivering said paperwork and initial occupancy status, we are not involved in physically evicting the tenants/former owners.
                        That's better Chris. We call that articulation and is huge in law enforcement. By the way I know "cash for keys" is a business decision for the banks but it always reminded me of agencies that cash out lawsuits just to make them go away. This type of "business" only encourages others to hold banks/agencies hostage to paying out cash for no good reason.
                        Today's Quote:

                        "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
                        Albert Einstein

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hey CA guys/gals, is it true that the Best Buy Geek Squad had to redo their paint schemes on their VW Bugs because of those vehicular codes?
                          "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Orwell

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            paint your white doors black. from there, there will be no confusion by any LEO's.

                            rub off any other sticker markings (from decals removed) that may still read or give the impression of the vehicle being a LE vehicle.

                            side note there are departments going to "ghost" markings (i.e. normally during day light, a white colored unit with faint but reflective LE markings and during darkness, when light hits the reflective markings, it shows up as a LEO unit). Popular with specialty units, i.e. DUI, Traffic, Gang / Crime Suppression Units, etc....
                            ''Life's tough......it's tougher if you're stupid.''
                            -- John Wayne

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AZLawDawg View Post
                              Hey CA guys/gals, is it true that the Best Buy Geek Squad had to redo their paint schemes on their VW Bugs because of those vehicular codes?
                              From the Minneapolis Star Tribune

                              "CHiPs are down on Geek Squad's cars
                              Chris Serres, Star Tribune
                              August 27, 2005

                              With their black slacks, starched white shirts and flashy badges, members of the Geek Squad look as if they walked off the set of the 1960s cop show "Dragnet."

                              But one law enforcement agency thinks the computer troubleshooting service has carried this police motif too far.

                              The California Highway Patrol says the Geek Squad's black-and-white Volkswagen Beetles, dubbed "Geekmobiles," look too much like patrol cars and could present a safety hazard. They're serious; patrol officers ticketed a "geek" in Walnut Creek, Calif., a Bay Area suburb.

                              Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens does not agree with that assessment. But to avoid future run-ins with the law, Stephens said he has reluctantly agreed to repaint the doors of all 150 "Geekmobiles" in California to black.

                              A safety hazard?Dino VournasAssociated Press"Haven't geeks been picked on enough already?" implored Stephens, who designed the original Geekmobile. "We've always tried to pay homage, through our uniforms and our general demeanor, to law enforcement. And now this. ... It's insulting because it's a complete waste of time."

                              Stephens launched the Geek Squad in 1994 as a 24-hour computer support service to businesses and residential customers. Best Buy Co. of Richfield bought the company in 2000 and pumped up the squad by hiring thousands of technicians. The Geek Squad now has 8,500 agents nationwide and plans to add 3,500 more.

                              From the beginning, the company patterned itself after a police squad. All Geek Squad staffers refer to themselves as "agents" or, in the case of computer troubleshooters who make house calls, "double agents." Best Buy stores that employ agents are known as "precincts."

                              It wasn't until earlier this year that computer technicians began getting pulled over by Highway Patrol officers. Officials said the Volkswagen Beetle's black-and-white color scheme was nearly identical to that of their Ford Crown Victorias.

                              "The concern here is that someone sees a black-and-white car in a rearview mirror, dives for the shoulder [of the road] or makes a lane change too quickly, thinking that a police officer is there," said Wayne Ziese, sergeant with the Golden Gate division of the California Highway Patrol.

                              Added Lt. Joe Whiteford of the California Highway Patrol's office of public affairs in Sacramento: "If we let Geek Squad mobiles look like cop cars, then another company will want to do it. Before you know it, you'll have black and white all over the place."

                              Stephens said he considered this a stretch. Seen from a rearview mirror, a Geekmobile is solid black and does not have lights on its roof like a patrol car, he noted. "I would be concerned about the mental state of anyone who did confuse [a Geekmobile] with a highway patrol car," Stephens said.

                              So far, California is the only state that has taken issue with the cars. In Minnesota, it's a moot issue because patrol officers drive maroon sedans and the agency does not care whether regular civilians also have maroon cars.

                              "It's interesting that the land of bundled-up Norwegians is more liberal on this issue than California," said Sean McDermott, a public information officer for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which oversees this state's highway patrol. "The Geek Squad is just fine with us."

                              Luke Steiner, a local agent with the Geek Squad, said he was pulled over only once by a Minnesota cop -- in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Maple Grove -- but not because of his car. The officer wanted advice on how he could speed up the hard drive on his home computer.

                              "We get people rolling down their windows on highways trying to yell questions at us," Steiner said.

                              "The next time the California Highway Patrol has a computer problem," warned Stephens, "we'll remind them about the paint job."

                              Geek Squad "Response Vehicle" (http://www.startribune.com/stonline/...eeks0827.l.jpg)
                              Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                              [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

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