Unmarked Cop Cars and DUI in California: What to Know

white unmarked police car at sunset

It’s officially Halloween season, and people of all ages look forward to the spooky festivities. Older individuals may attend Halloween parties with plenty of alcohol to enjoy. While you are dressing up in costume, what about the police officers who are dressing down? Are unmarked police cars allowed to make DUI arrests? Let’s discuss California laws regarding unmarked police officer activity so you can be prepared.

Traffic Stop by an Unmarked Police Car

In California, police officers in unmarked cars can stop drivers for violating traffic laws. If you were speeding, ran a stop sign, or otherwise committed a traffic violation, unmarked police cars can stop you. However, it’s unlikely that they will do so. Instead, common practice involves the officer in the unmarked car reporting the violation to an officer in a marked car so they can stop and further investigate the situation and take action.

If an unmarked police car makes a traffic stop, there must be a uniformed officer inside. This is for the safety of everyone involved. If you are ever stopped by an unmarked car and a non-uniformed person approaches you, they are not a real police officer.

Whether you are stopped by a marked or unmarked police car, you could be charged with DUI if they find evidence to support that you are impaired.

Signs of an Unmarked Police Car

While unmarked police cars are obviously more difficult to spot than those clearly labeled ‘police,’ there are some signs you may notice that cause you to raise an eyebrow. Unmarked police cars tend to have exempt license plates, no hubcaps, and steel rims. You may also notice police gear within the vehicle, if you can see in the windows.

While many makes and models are used for police vehicles, some of the most popular include Dodge and Ford. If you see a unique looking Dodge or Ford vehicle, and any of the signs above, it could be an unmarked cop car.

DUI Arrest in Rancho Cucamonga

The laws regarding unmarked police cars in California are a bit complicated and confusing. The police officer who stopped and arrested you for DUI may or may not have had the right to do so. Our defense attorneys at Newman & Allen can make a strong defense case for why you should not be convicted of DUI after being stopped by an unmarked police vehicle. Share your situation with our team today.

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