1. #1
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    Ohio - Unmarked Vehicles for Traffic Enforcement?

    Hello all,

    I searched for this and couldn't find it so here is my question. I know that unmarked police cars are not used for traffic enforcement in Ohio. Now, I'm not here to try to fly by a unmarked car for fun... however there have been new stories of people pulled over by fake police officers in unmarked cars and I'm curious about this for my safety.

    In Ohio, most people do not know the EXACT law regarding unmarked police cars. It's really a blurry subject to most people.

    Basically my question is... is it legal for a unmarked police car to enforce traffic laws in Ohio? (Ohio State Troopers & Local Officers) Also, what is considers "unmarked" and "marked" because I have been under the assumption that a light bar must be on top of the vehicle with the obvious markings on the side and front of the vehicle.

    Thanks for any comments and thank you for enforcing the law and keeping us safe!

    -Ryan
    Last edited by oh hi oh; 01-08-2008 at 11:43 AM. Reason: Added "(Ohio State Troopers & Local Officers)"

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    I don't know the law in Ohio or what consitutes an 'unmarked' car there, but I never saw one during my travels through the state (mostly I-76, I-71, I-75 & I-80). Of course, that doesn't mean they don't exist - just that I did not see any. County or city cops might use "plain wrappers" on side roads, too.


    Every police car I saw was a "full grown" bear - decals, roof light rack, etc., etc.; and each cop was in full uniform (with a hat, too!).


    Post your question in the "Ohio" forum, and you will find your question answered properly and in detail. Good luck in finding the information you want.

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

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    A lot of agencies have issues with unmarked cars running traffic enforcement. Many require either a marked car OR a full uniform ( i.e. a uniformed officer can run traffic in an unmarked car, but no plain-clothes guys in unmarked units).

    Also, unmarked just in a sense of the word, means no markings. Slicktop cars are marked, they just dont have a lightbar on top. I've never hard of any state governing where the light on the car goes, only what colors they have to be, flashing or solid (CA and its solid red light, for example), etc.

    Some states do have laws governing things like where the word "POLICE" has to be displayed. I couldnt tell you which ones though off hand.

    In some states, there is no law preventing unmarked cars from pulling you over, however I know of several states that have laws about "fleeing and eluding" that only cover marked cars, so in those states fleeing from an unmarked car will not get you charged under THAT statute (Im sure they will find something to arrest you for if you run).

    Bottom line is if a car tries to stop you, stop. If you suspect it isnt a police officer, obviously, go to a well-lit, populated area and call 911 or your local non-emergency number and request a marked unit (dont assume that asking the 911 operator will answer your questions. The officer might work for a different department or such).
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    Under Ohio law, any police vehicle which is used for traffic enforcement as its exclusive or main purpose must be properly marked and have at least one flashing/osolating light ON TOP of the vehicle.

    ORC 4549.13 Marking and equipment for motor vehicle used by traffic enforcement officers.
    Any motor vehicle used by a member of the state highway patrol or by any other peace officer, while said officer is on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing the motor vehicle or traffic laws of this state, provided the offense is punishable as a misdemeanor, shall be marked in some distinctive manner or color and shall be equipped with, but need not necessarily have in operation at all times, at least one flashing, oscillating, or rotating colored light mounted outside on top of the vehicle. The superintendent of the state highway patrol shall specify what constitutes such a distinctive marking or color for the state highway patrol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Hello all,

    I searched for this and couldn't find it so here is my question. I know that unmarked police cars are not used for traffic enforcement in Ohio. Now, I'm not here to try to fly by a unmarked car for fun... however there have been new stories of people pulled over by fake police officers in unmarked cars and I'm curious about this for my safety.

    In Ohio, most people do not know the EXACT law regarding unmarked police cars. It's really a blurry subject to most people.

    Basically my question is... is it legal for a unmarked police car to enforce traffic laws in Ohio? (Ohio State Troopers & Local Officers) Also, what is considers "unmarked" and "marked" because I have been under the assumption that a light bar must be on top of the vehicle with the obvious markings on the side and front of the vehicle.

    Thanks for any comments and thank you for enforcing the law and keeping us safe!

    -Ryan

    So...what kind of ticket are you trying to get out of....??


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    So...what kind of ticket are you trying to get out of....??

    A speeding ticket written by an officer in an unmarked, obviously.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by GatorPD
    Some states do have laws governing things like where the word "POLICE" has to be displayed. I couldnt tell you which ones though off hand.
    This car was completely white and I could see a small red and blue light in the back window of the vehicle, but other than that there is no way you could tell .


    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    So...what kind of ticket are you trying to get out of....??

    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh
    A speeding ticket written by an officer in an unmarked, obviously.
    Honestly, I'm not. However, I was driving 70 in a 65 MPH zone on the highway and the unmarked car got behind me and tailgated me because I passed him and I was really concerned about it and that's the primary reason why I decided to ask here. Maybe he was just trying to bully me to make me slow down?
    Last edited by oh hi oh; 01-09-2008 at 12:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh View Post
    A speeding ticket written by an officer in an unmarked, obviously.
    I figured it was either that....or one that had him driving like an idiot.....and no he's looking for ways out of it.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    I figured it was either that....or one that had him driving like an idiot.....and no he's looking for ways out of it.....
    Sorry that I'm not your idiot driver. I'm being honest and just wanted a myth type of issue here in Ohio explained to the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Sorry that I'm not your idiot driver. I'm being honest and just wanted a myth type of issue here in Ohio explained to the truth.
    If you search around the boards in the Ask A Cop sections....you will see that people come on here all the time wanting to figure out how to slide on tickets they have gotten for speeding or driving like an idiot......

    And most have strange idea's that vehicles have to be marked, officers in uniform, Troopers wearing hats, vehicles running radar out in the open, vehicles running radar having to have headlights on if they are on the side of the road, etc......

    So... just beware when you ask questions like this...we tend to be suspect of the motives most times.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    And most have strange idea's that vehicles have to be marked
    Well in certain states this is true...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    officers in uniform
    Same..

    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    Troopers wearing hats, vehicles running radar out in the open, vehicles running radar having to have headlights on if they are on the side of the road, etc.....
    Well those are a little stupid, however just because someone asks a question doesn't mean they are trying to break the law.

    I like to know things just "to know" and it makes me a better driver for it. Also if anyone ever asked about it, I can give the correct answer instead of hear say. I only like to give people answers that I know are 100% correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Well those are a little stupid, however just because someone asks a question doesn't mean they are trying to break the law.
    If you did a quick search of the Ask a Cop-Traffic Enforcement Questions, you would see that we get these questions all the time.....and 99.9% of the time, it's because someone is trying to weasel out of a ticket.....

    So, that's why most of us are suspect when folks ask questions of this nature......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    If you did a quick search of the Ask a Cop-Traffic Enforcement Questions, you would see that we get these questions all the time.....and 99.9% of the time, it's because someone is trying to weasel out of a ticket.....

    So, that's why most of us are suspect when folks ask questions of this nature......
    I did a search and I did not see any answer about the law SPECIFICALLY for Ohio. Seems like you are a typical mean officer thinking everyone is trying to sneak or weasel out of something.

    I haven't had a citation in over a year and even if I DID get into a situation where I got a citation involving it, does that mean you wouldn't help someone who asked the question here? That would make absolutely no sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    I did a search and I did not see any answer about the law SPECIFICALLY for Ohio. Seems like you are a typical mean officer thinking everyone is trying to sneak or weasel out of something.

    I haven't had a citation in over a year and even if I DID get into a situation where I got a citation involving it, does that mean you wouldn't help someone who asked the question here? That would make absolutely no sense.
    Don't take it personally. I recently registered but have been reading the forums for years and I get these same questions on and off duty all the time as I am sure the other guys and gals on here get. A lot of people DO come on here to try and weasel out of something. Not saying that's your case here, but it happens much more often than not from what I have seen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NE75 View Post
    Don't take it personally. I recently registered but have been reading the forums for years and I get these same questions on and off duty all the time as I am sure the other guys and gals on here get. A lot of people DO come on here to try and weasel out of something. Not saying that's your case here, but it happens much more often than not from what I have seen.
    Well, he is just being foolish in his topics otherwise I could careless.

    And it wouldn't make sense if I got a ticket by a unmarked car and asked the question. Obviously if that happened I would know the answer to the question!

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    I did a search and I did not see any answer about the law SPECIFICALLY for Ohio. Seems like you are a typical mean officer thinking everyone is trying to sneak or weasel out of something.
    I'm not being mean....I am being very honest.....as if you had in fact searched the site (especially the ACC area) you would have seen that a lot of the posts are by folks trying to get out of traffic summons......


    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    does that mean you wouldn't help someone who asked the question here? That would make absolutely no sense.
    No I would not help.....and one would suspect that 99.9% of the LEOs on here would be the same way.....

    If I did happen to help....it would be to tell you to pay the ticket....or go to court with a lawyer....

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Well, he is just being foolish in his topics otherwise I could careless.

    And it wouldn't make sense if I got a ticket by a unmarked car and asked the question. Obviously if that happened I would know the answer to the question!
    Foolish? Just because a fellow officer didn't tell you what you wanted to hear does not make him foolish.

    I don't work in Ohio and I don't know their laws but I do know that you're not going to get a ticket without a valid reason. If you got a ticket it was because you broke a law, and get this, even if Ohio DOES have said law, if you blasted past a Detective or other officer driving an unmarked car they certainly can cite you for the law that you broke. I work traffic but if I am driving down the street and see someone robbing a bank I'm not going to say "Well, those guys are safe for now but boy they better use the turn signals in their getaway car".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    I'm not being mean....I am being very honest.....as if you had in fact searched the site (especially the ACC area) you would have seen that a lot of the posts are by folks trying to get out of traffic summons......
    I searched "OHIO UNMARKED" and did not see any specific topics talking about Ohio and Unmarked cars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bearcat357 View Post
    No I would not help.....and one would suspect that 99.9% of the LEOs on here would be the same way.....

    If I did happen to help....it would be to tell you to pay the ticket....or go to court with a lawyer....
    Then I guess you are a jerk and give the good officers a bad name. Once again, WHY WOULD I ask this question if I actually did get a citation. That would make absolutely no sense in asking the question on here if I did because I would obviously know the answer. Why don't you open your eyes, get whatever is stuck out of your *** and realize people are not always out to do bad things.

    Quote Originally Posted by NE75
    Foolish? Just because a fellow officer didn't tell you what you wanted to hear does not make him foolish.
    If he doesn't want to tell me the answer, why would he make a reply to this thread then? The name of the topic is "Traffic Enforcement Questions" and he doesn't have to reply to every post that he doesn't agree with giving advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by NE75
    I don't work in Ohio and I don't know their laws but I do know that you're not going to get a ticket without a valid reason. If you got a ticket it was because you broke a law, and get this, even if Ohio DOES have said law, if you blasted past a Detective or other officer driving an unmarked car they certainly can cite you for the law that you broke. I work traffic but if I am driving down the street and see someone robbing a bank I'm not going to say "Well, those guys are safe for now but boy they better use the turn signals in their getaway car".
    Once again, I am not asking this to get away with things. I was asking for general curiosity and also incase a unmarked car did try and pull me over if I should pull over. I have read numerous stories where a "unmarked car" pulled over people and then it ended up being someone robbing them.

    This topic might as well be closed and I want to thank "Bing_Oh" for posting the best response to this thread although he thought I was trying to get out of a ticket as well.

    Remember, there are citizens out there that are actually trying to obey the law. Stop trying to assume everyone is out to get in trouble.

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    Bing Oh did answer your question. In OH, unmarked cars cannot work traffic enforcement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Then I guess you are a jerk and give the good officers a bad name. Once again, WHY WOULD I ask this question if I actually did get a citation. That would make absolutely no sense in asking the question on here if I did because I would obviously know the answer. Why don't you open your eyes, get whatever is stuck out of your *** and realize people are not always out to do bad things..
    Actually, it would make perfect sense. Let me explain...

    Say, for example, you were driving 110 mph in reverse in a school zone, where you struck 15 kindergarteners and a nun (Catholic school). You're stopped and cited for your minor traffic violation by an officer in an unmarked car. Of course, you discuss this travesty of justice with your best friend/hairdresser/dog groomer/local pedophile. Your best friend/hairdresser/dog groomer/local pedophile says, "HEY! They can't do that! My father's cousin's nephew's uncle's former roommate says that cop cars in Ohio have to have lights on top to give out traffic tickets!" Hope springs eternal! Now, with your court date quickly approaching, you think you may have an out...the cop can't write a ticket in an unmarked car! Of course, having a glimmer of common sense, you know that the court won't take your word for it about this legal loophole, and your best friend/hairdresser/dog groomer/local pedophile's father's cousin's nephew's uncle's former roommate (whew!) is out of town and unable to testify on your behalf. And, like most civilians without legal training, you have no idea how to find this out on your own. Voila! Here's a police website with a message board! I can disguise my question as being an innocent personal-interest inquiry and have an Ohio cop do my research for me! I can use the cops to get out of a ticket! Brilliant!

    So, there you have it. A (slightly exaggerated) scenario where asking the question in exactly the way you did could be an attempt to get assistance in getting out of a ticket. Of course, if you're trying to get out of a ticket, you already knew that...
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by oh hi oh View Post
    Then I guess you are a jerk and give the good officers a bad name. Once again, WHY WOULD I ask this question if I actually did get a citation. That would make absolutely no sense in asking the question on here if I did because I would obviously know the answer. Why don't you open your eyes, get whatever is stuck out of your *** and realize people are not always out to do bad things.
    You need to open your eyes and read what I posted....

    I said if you had taken the time to search the AAC Traffic Section, you would have seen it full of threads that have folks trying to get out of traffic tickets........

    So...when folks post questions about stuff you were asking......99.9% of us that post here regularly......have reason to believe that you are trying to get off from paying a ticket.....

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    i don't mean to interrupt, but i'm just curious what these laws are in Vermont. i've seen unmarked Chevy Malibus pulling people over on the highway with strobing headlights and tail lights.

    saw a guy in plainclothes driving a blue (not green like all the cop cars in VT) impala throw his dash lights on when some guy tried passing him on the right (didn't pull him over, just slowed him down). no antennas, personal license plates.

    o and the strangest was some kind of new truck, equipped with a cap on the bed. had a guy pulled over with strobe lights.

    i'd just be nervous pulling over for any of the above LEOs.
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