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  1. #1
    Forum Member Jaguar57's Avatar
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    Officer Visiblity While Running Radar

    I posted another question back in July '07 (http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69512) dealing with this topic. While I received responses I didn’t see any officer replies from Iowa. So this is why I am posting the question in the Iowa specific section.

    The reason why I bring this up again is that I am in a "friendly" debate with another poster on another message board talking about this same subject. From one of their posts they state:

    Only really stupid people think that it is ok to sit on the side of the road without your flashers on. In 1970 or 71, the state supreme court of Iowa ruled it was illegal then and still is. A citizen won his case against the highway patrol. If you are smart enough to go ask an officer of the law , you will quickly find out. All officers are required to have their parking lights on when they are parked on the side of the road at night. I read the casefile back in 1970 or 71. I tried to use this case against a speeding ticket on campus at ISU, but judge said the campus cop was in a paralell parking stall, which is considered legal parking, not needing lights. An open stretch of road is a completely different story.
    From the responses to my original post I presumed that this person was wrong until they posted their response from dealing with the Iowa Supreme Court.

    So I guess I would like to know what is correct. It seems like I have seen troopers blacked out on the interstate in the median on an old construction lane cut over running radar which in regards to this Supreme Court ruling makes it sound like this would be illegal. I do admit they may not have been running radar and may have been there for other reasons.

    As I said in my original post I am not posting this to justify speeding nor am I trying to fight a speeding ticket. I am just trying to understand the law and how it relates to officers (state, county or local) running radar in their patrol cars.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Jaguar57; 10-11-2007 at 11:22 AM.

  2. #2
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    321.395 says that any vehicle parked or stopped on the roadway or shoulder adjacent to the roadway is sopposed to have at least the parking lights on. unless ther is a local ordinance saying otherwise.

    I would think that the median would be safe to use for speed inforcement since it isnot open to the public. 321.1(78)
    Last edited by colaking; 10-11-2007 at 06:51 PM.

  3. #3
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    One would like to think the median doesn't count, but it does. The roadway is from ditch to ditch is the opinion I recieved in court once.

    One reason I don't sit on the highways at night anymore to run radar.

  4. #4
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    How many times have you driven with your lights off when your coming up to a house party and other things??

    How many times have you used the brake light kill switch so you don't give yourself away on surveillance and what not??

    How many times have you drove around with out your seat belt, especially on security checks??

    Our job requires different things. Are we above the law..no but somethings aren't meant for us. (not sure if I worded that right)

    I've heard this debate before and have been questioned on it..I just tell them to take it to court. I've been told many different times that it's just a myth!

    I have a call into a trooper friend and I'm sure he'll know...I'll post up when he calls back

  5. #5
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    Makes sense that it would be illegal based on 321.395. While officers given certain circumstances are SOMEWHAT "exempt" from certain parts of the law... I don't think this would fall into that based on the chance of accident...

    I think the speed should still be a good stop and a good ticket, but at the same time the violator could come back and have the officer ticketed...

    That's how I would see it.
    Fight until hell freezes over, then fight on ICE!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcpdwannabe View Post
    How many times have you driven with your lights off when your coming up to a house party and other things??

    How many times have you used the brake light kill switch so you don't give yourself away on surveillance and what not??

    How many times have you drove around with out your seat belt, especially on security checks??

    Our job requires different things. Are we above the law..no but somethings aren't meant for us. (not sure if I worded that right)

    I've heard this debate before and have been questioned on it..I just tell them to take it to court. I've been told many different times that it's just a myth!

    I have a call into a trooper friend and I'm sure he'll know...I'll post up when he calls back
    You're right on several points, however it falls back to are we above the law in order to catch a criminal? No, I don't think so. We need to follow the rules just as much, if not more in order to get the job done.

    Yes, we can drive the wrong way on a one-way; we can park in a fire lane and leave our car unattended; we can park in a handicap stall with no retribution; speed; no lights; all that stuff, but it has to be done in the course of duty - as in responding to or handling a call for service. Sitting in the median or side of the road, in the dark with all your lights off to run radar is not in the course of duty. You're working but not on a call that requires such a thing. There's a huge difference as I see it.


    No seatbelt - as long as you're making frequent stops and are under 25 mph, you're good (check it out). Doing door checks would fall under that. Also, I believe most businesses are private property so belt requirements don't apply anyhow.


    I've got one for you and it always makes me laugh. A response by a deputy to a lawyer in a courtroom where the deputy had arrest the lawyer's client for drunk driving. The PC was driving without lights.

    "Deputy, have you ever driven at night" "yes"
    "Have you ever driven without lights on" "yes"
    "So you admit to violating the law, same as you claim my client did." no response
    "Is there a reason you drove without lights, at night, when they were required?"

    "Yes. So I would know how one can not see where they are going and therefore I would know what a danger to the public it was to drive without lights at night when one should"

    Guess the lawyer stopped his line of questioning.

  7. #7
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    SddR70- I agree with you entirely, I think you really hit the nail on the head here. This is exactly how people need to understand how we do our jobs. Excellent.

    This is definitely going to change how I run traffic.
    Fight until hell freezes over, then fight on ICE!

  8. #8
    bps
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    I am going to put my 2 cents in on this topic. Running radar is traffic enforcement. Traffic enforcement is part of my job/duty. Therefore, I park in the median all the time without lights on and by law I am not required to. It is a myth that we are required to sit with our lights on and it needs to be disproved. I don't have an administrative law code book, but I know its in there. Please come into court sometime after you are issued a citation by me while I was sitting in the median without my lights on and you will still lose. Better yet, try to have your attorney or prosecutor issue me a cite for not having my lights on. Its a battle your not going to win. I have yet to be told by any supervisor or seen any policy/procedure that states I must have my lights on to sit in the median. Better yet, I don't know a single State Trooper that sits with their lights on in the median and if it was illegal, we wouldn't be able to do it. I have never heard of the State Patrol losing a case in the 70's or since then or ever. Please don't try to argue that traffic enforcement isn't part of your job, because it should be. I am speaking on this topic with a lot of experience in this area.

  9. #9
    bps
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    Just copied this out of the Iowa law online site:

    "Roadway" means that portion of a highway used for the movement of vehicles, including shoulders and auxiliary lanes. A divided highway has two or more roadways .

    Meaning, the median is not a roadway because it is not the shoulder and it is not the traveled portion of the roadway.

  10. #10
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    I am not attempting to ARGUE that traffic enforcemtn isn't part of MY job, it is very much part of MY job, I am simply saying that if we are doing something that may be inproper, or clearly outlined as illegal, I think WE should all attempt to lead by example. I have done this same thing on many occasions, and if it is in fact illegal. I would clearly think it would be an area ALL officers should correct. Just because you haven't heard of it, or you can't find, it doesn't make it right.

    I think that iowa code 321.395 clearly shows that we may all be doing something that isn't in line with the law and if that is the fact then maybe we should either look into how to do our jobs better and more inline with the same laws we are enforcing. I'm not necessarily saying the median is the issue or not. But it very much appears that sitting on the shoulder blacked out could very well be an issue worth looking into.
    Fight until hell freezes over, then fight on ICE!

  11. #11
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    I'll add that when I run radar, I do it out of the line of traffic - not in the median or on the shoulder. I prefer to pull into a drive - like a field drive - and operate that way. Also, I like sitting in parking lots that parallel the roadway. Either spot allows me to sit completely blacked out without raising the question of should or should I not have my parking lights on.

    Anything I can do to put a postive impact on the public in how I do my job is a goal I strive for. The question this thread started is a good one, one I've wondered even myself for my career length. But getting tossed by a judge on a technicality - as he saw it - is enough to make me strive for a higher standard.

    If someone can get or provide the court ruling or opinion that the original poster commented on - PM it to me please. I'd appreciate it and could share it with my officers.

    You guys wanna sit in the median or on the shoulder with no lights, go right ahead. I won't argue with you when you stop me and write me. I'm just going by the standard set in the courts I have to appear in (on that rare occassion someone fights a ticket I wrote).

    One thing I've noticed after working a variety of counties - each county prosecutor and judges see things differently. We all have to work within the standards they give us. Too bad it can't be uniform across the State.

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