Is It Really Illegal For Cops To Use Unmarked Cars In New York State?
New York State Police have already announced that they are out in full force, cracking down on impaired and distracted drivers, as well as people speeding, and disobeying the move-over law, as well as other traffic rules this holiday season. The NYSP enforcement period is already underway; it kicked off on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, and runs through Sunday, January 1, 2023. New York State Police said they would be using concealed identity, or unmarked vehicles during the campaign,
During the campaign, Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. The CITE vehicles allow Troopers to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. CITE vehicles allow the Trooper to better observe distracted driving violations. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic, but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
But, are they breaking the law by doing so?
Is It Illegal For Police To Use Undercover Cars In New York State?
The answer is NO! There have been several bills introduced to make it illegal, but none have passed yet. Back in 1996, on April 17, then-Governor George E. Pataki signed an executive order that prohibited the use of undercover cop cars. The Executive Order stated, in part, that
On or before May 1, 1996 unmarked or concealed identity police vehicles of the State of New York are not used for the routine stopping or apprehension of motorists for offenses relating to the Vehicle and Traffic Law and are used to stop or apprehend motorists for such offenses only under exceptional and necessitous circumstances presenting a substantial threat to public safety.
However, the EO was later repealed by Governors - David A. Paterson (Revoked by Executive Order No. 9) and Andrew M. Cuomo (Revoked by Executive Order No. 2).
Recently, Senate Bill S839 was introduced in the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. The bill is,
An act to amend the executive law, in relation to prohibiting the use of unmarked police vehicles, concealed identify police vehicles and under-cover police officers for routine traffic enforcement.
This bill, which would take effect immediately if passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, is still in the Senate Committee Finance Committee. So, if you plan on speeding or breaking any traffic laws this holiday season, you could be pulled over by an undercover cop.
***This article is not intended to provide any legal advise or counsel.