Riverside: Unmarked Police Vehicles Will Stay That Way

Last month, officials from the city of Riverside announced that they will not be repainting some of their unmarked police vehicles back to the standard black and white. The idea was discussed at department meetings after City Councilman Mike Soubirous, who happens to be a retired California Highway Patrol officer, questioned why city police have more unmarked cars than marked vehicles. Out of the Riverside PD’s 345-vehicle fleet, 124 cars are marked, 195 are unmarked, and others are specialized vehicles.

Police chief Sergio Diaz has reportedly claimed cost to be a primary determining factor.  It would cost $2.6 million to convert unmarked cars to marked ones, and he did not believe having more visible police cars would deter crime.  The City Council did not dispute the Riverside PD and will not be taking any action.

It is Legal for Police to Use Unmarked Vehicles to Give Out Traffic Citations

Across the western seaboard in Oregon, Washington, and California, police have also been using unmarked vehicles not only for undercover crime-solving purposes, but to give out traffic tickets to unsuspecting drivers. There are obviously concerns with this practice in all states. There have been instances where a man impersonated a police office to grab a woman’s purse and drive off.  Even worse, a woman driving by herself at night risks being assaulted if she stops for an unmarked car.

In 2008, a California appellate court weakened an eighty-five year ban that would have kept police from using unmarked cars to issue traffic tickets. In that specific case, the court held that the California legislature did not intend for a law against speed traps to be an absolute bar against the use of unmarked cars for traffic stops such as DUIs.

Police departments have historically recommended people being pulled over by unmarked cars to call 911 or 211 to confirm with dispatchers whether a license plate is a registered police car that is unmarked.  However, California also has several laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. Police departments, therefore, appear to be chasing their own tails.

You Have Legal Defenses

California law has an exemption for those who use their cell phones to make emergency calls.  If you are being pursued by an unmarked car, it is recommended you call 911.

Further, you cannot be charged with evading a police officer when you are being pursued by a car that is not distinctively marked.

San Diego Traffic Defense and Criminal Defense Lawyer

At The Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we represent people charged with everything from felonies, misdemeanors, or traffic violations. Whether you were falsely accused of evading a police officer, or made a mistake while driving, is important you contact a lawyer to fight for you. Law enforcement officers are increasingly using unfair tactics like using unmarked vehicles to give traffic citations, but are also giving out fines for using your cell phone while driving. At The Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we will fight for your freedom.