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Pulled Over By An Undercover?

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  • Pulled Over By An Undercover?

    I was curious: if an undercover officer tries to pull someone over, does that person legally have to pull over? If there is no clear sign other then the siren and lights that the person is an actual officer, I would think that legally it could be argued that the person should not have to pull over.

    Though it is a far-fetched excuse, couldn't someone claim that they didn't pull over for fear of being mugged etc.? I have heard stories of people getting pulled over by who they thought were police officers only to get robbed.

    So I think it could be a valid argument that unless there is clear proof that the person pulling someone over has clear car markings to prove that he is in fact an officer, the person should not have to pull off for them.

    I've always wondered this.
    When talking to a fool, be sure he isn't doing the same.

  • #2
    There have been numerous posts on this subject. I will try to sum them up.

    The general rule of thumb is that an undercover officer (i.e. one in a non-law enforcement vehicle wearing plain clothes and not a uniform) should not make traffic stops without the presence of a marked car / uniformed officers. Some states (California) have gone as far as to prohibit unmarked or undercover cars from making traffic stops- unless there is an urgent need (lives are endangered etc). I regularly hear detective and narcotic units in our area call for marked cars to make traffic stops for them.

    However, don't mistake these "undercover" cars with the unmarked or "slicktop" Crown Vics, Tahoes and Chargers widely used for traffic enforcement. These cars are operated by fully uniformed officers and they make many stops every day across the country.

    Some common sense has to come into play here. You need to pull to the right and stop as required when an emergency vehicle is approaching- it may not be stopping you or could be a volunteer firefighter / EMT responding to a call in their personal vehicle. If you are uncomfortable with the stop you can always request to see photo ID, ask for another uniformed officer to respond or try to call 911 (works in some areas) to try to confirm the stop (confirming via 911s will work 50% of the time or less...).
    Last edited by KAA951; 07-04-2008, 05:24 PM.
    ---Cut the red wire---

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    • #3
      I love this excuse! Especially at night when they can't tell if its a marked unit or not...

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      • #4
        If you think it might be a faker you can turn your flashers on and drive carefully to a high-visibility high-public-access area, and you can call the police on your cell phone.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KAA951 View Post
          Some states (California) have gone as far as to prohibit unmarked or undercover cars from making traffic stops- unless there is an urgent need (lives are endangered etc).
          Actually California has no such prohibition.

          Officers whose "primary function" is traffic enforcement must drive a conspicuously marked vehicle and be in uniform. This would include patrol units from CHP, local PD traffic units, motor units, etc. This does not preclude unmarked units and plain clothes officers from making a traffic stop and issuing traffic citations secondarily to whatever their primary function is (gang detail, forgery, auto theft, etc.) The key is traffic enforcement cannot be their primary function. Out of common sense, many plain clothes units will call for a marked unit, but they don't have to.

          As far as refusing to pull over, California law is quite clear. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed. There is no exemption to this requirement just because it is an unmarked vehicle.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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          • #6
            Originally posted by L-1 View Post
            Actually California has no such prohibition.

            Officers whose "primary function" is traffic enforcement must drive a conspicuously marked vehicle and be in uniform. This would include patrol units from CHP, local PD traffic units, motor units, etc. This does not preclude unmarked units and plain clothes officers from making a traffic stop and issuing traffic citations secondarily to whatever their primary function is (gang detail, forgery, auto theft, etc.) The key is traffic enforcement cannot be their primary function. Out of common sense, many plain clothes units will call for a marked unit, but they don't have to.

            As far as refusing to pull over, California law is quite clear. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed. There is no exemption to this requirement just because it is an unmarked vehicle.
            Which must be MARKED btw,,,,,,that is part of the definition of an 'authorized emergency vehicle'........

            As KAA951 pointed out though.....there is a MAJOR difference between a 'plainwrap' Crown Vic being used to do traffic stops (and in some states, full on traffic enforcement), and true UC cars.....which are usually anything EXCEPT Crown Vics, Tahoes ect......

            If the guys are working UC, they are not going to 'blow their cover' by conducting a traffic stop....they will call for a marked unit to make the stop......
            The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

            "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

            "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
              Which must be MARKED btw,,,,,,that is part of the definition of an 'authorized emergency vehicle'........
              Come on...don't make work for the old guy. Nowhere does it say that distinctive marking is one of the requirements for an authorized emergency vehicle. See for yourself.

              VC 165. An authorized emergency vehicle is:
              (a) Any publicly owned and operated ambulance, lifeguard, or
              lifesaving equipment or any privately owned or operated ambulance
              licensed by the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to
              operate in response to emergency calls.
              (b) Any publicly owned vehicle operated by the following persons,
              agencies, or organizations:
              (1) Any federal, state, or local agency, department, or district
              employing peace officers as that term is defined in Chapter 4.5
              (commencing with Section 830) of Part 2 of Title 3 of the Penal Code,
              for use by those officers in the performance of their duties.
              (2) Any forestry or fire department of any public agency or fire
              department organized as provided in the Health and Safety Code.
              (c) Any vehicle owned by the state, or any bridge and highway
              district, and equipped and used either for fighting fires, or towing
              or servicing other vehicles, caring for injured persons, or repairing
              damaged lighting or electrical equipment.
              (d) Any state-owned vehicle used in responding to emergency fire,
              rescue or communications calls and operated either by the Office of
              Emergency Services or by any public agency or industrial fire
              department to which the Office of Emergency Services has assigned the
              vehicle.
              (e) Any vehicle owned or operated by any department or agency of
              the United States government when the vehicle is used in responding
              to emergency fire, ambulance, or lifesaving calls or is actively
              engaged in law enforcement work.
              (f) Any vehicle for which an authorized emergency vehicle permit
              has been issued by the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.

              25252. Every authorized emergency vehicle shall be equipped with at
              least one steady burning red warning lamp visible from at least
              1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle to be used as provided in this
              code.
              In addition, authorized emergency vehicles may display revolving,
              flashing, or steady red warning lights to the front, sides or rear of
              the vehicles.
              Last edited by L-1; 07-05-2008, 05:01 PM.
              Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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              • #8
                LaDep my brother, I gotta side with L-1, the marked requirement is for traffic enforcement not a C3 response.
                Today's Quote:

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

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                • #9
                  It's like y'all California folks speak a whole 'nuther language sometimes, honey
                  sigpic

                  I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

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                  • #10
                    I've done plenty of unmarked stops in CA, none were ever questioned.

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                    • #11
                      this question come up everytime one of our unmarked or detective cars is involved in a TC. They are on duty emergency vehicles as defined by the vehicle code. Only traffic units whose primary duty is traffic enforcement are required to be marked, in uniform,etc.

                      There is also case law floating around (I cant remember the exact case right now) that defined distinctively marked as only being a lightbar, spotlights, etc.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mdrdep View Post
                        LaDep my brother, I gotta side with L-1, the marked requirement is for traffic enforcement not a C3 response.
                        Yep L-1 is correct in my experience as well. It does happen but the smart plainclothes cars are always on the air and have a marked unit rolling their direction.
                        "Oro En Paz, Fierro En Guerra"
                        "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
                        - Attributed to both George Orwell and Winston Churchill (unsourced)
                        Californian by birth, Cardinals fan by marriage!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by L-1 View Post
                          Actually California has no such prohibition.
                          I apologize- I was simply going off of the information posted by several California officers on other threads about this same subject.
                          ---Cut the red wire---

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                          • #14
                            All of our officers can make stops, even our "Brass" and Detectives.

                            All unmarked vehicles are equipped with lights, at least, and sirens.
                            The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                            I Am the Sheepdog.


                            "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                            that we are all that stands between
                            the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                            sigpic

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                            • #15
                              In Washington state the law only requires the vehicle to be equiped with lights and sirens, no police marking is required. As for plain clothes officers doing stops, it is not prohibited but probably better to have assistance with a marked unit, if possible!!!
                              Your Gauging Intelligence From An Ignorant Scale

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