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Bulloch Local News

Can local law enforcement use unmarked vehicles for citations?

The Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Statesboro Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol, recently launched an initiative to curtail distracted driving.

Word of the pull overs and citations spread like wildfire on social media and what seemed to be of most concern to citizens was the use of unmarked vehicles. Accusations of wrongdoing and statements of ‘illegitimate tickets’ plagued the interwebs.

So, AllOnGeorgia attended the press conference at the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office on the initiative Thursday afternoon and clarified about the use of unmarked vehicles.

To put it succinctly, it is not against the law in Georgia for a law enforcement officer to use an unmarked vehicle to issue a citation or arrest someone.

Georgia law allows for the use of unmarked vehicles, but stipulates that issuing citations or conducting traffic stops as an unmarked vehicle cannot be the sole, full-time use of the vehicle. It is not uncommon for a fully uniformed officer to be utilizing an unmarked vehicle while working a gang unit, a crime suppression unit or some other form of investigations. While these officers have the ability to enforce traffic (and other) laws and issue citations, it is not their primary duty.

Georgia law in O.C.G.A. 40-1-7 reads:

Whenever pursuing a person in violation of a traffic related offense, a uniformed law enforcement officer who is assigned routinely or primarily to traffic law enforcement or other traffic safety duties on the roadways or highways of this state must place a visible blue light on the roof of his or her vehicle if such vehicle is not equipped with permanent exterior mounted roof blue lights…This Code section shall not apply to any officer assigned to special operations activities or responding to an immediate threat to public safety as a result of an accident or other emergency.

In the GSP/BCSO/SPD initiative instances, the law enforcement officials utilizing the unmarked vehicles are not full-time traffic enforcement officers. All three agencies are using marked patrol cars as part of the operation as well, many of which very well may be dedicated to only traffic enforcement.

The law also caps the number of vehicles without blue lights an agency is permitted to have at any given time.

So, YES, these officers, deputies, and troopers are making lawful stops and YES, should you receive a ticket or be arrested, you will have to answer for it in court.

If you are ever concerned about an unmarked vehicle attempting to pull you over, there are exceptions that allow for a motorist to get to a safe and/or more public location. Just make sure you slow down and use your turn signal so the LEO is aware you intend to stop. Additionally, drivers can call the 911 call center to verify their location that an officer is attempting to pull over their vehicle.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Eric

    February 24, 2017 at 6:58 am

    So can the LEO in an unmarked vehicle sit on the road side and run radar without a visible blue light on the roof?

    • gene scarbrough

      February 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Yes, some vehicles are equipped with lights inside windshield and rear window as well as in front grill.

    • JLB

      February 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Eric……how about you just stop spending and/or breaking traffic laws. i havent had a ticket in 40 years. the cops can do whatever they want…. they arent looking for me. 🙂

    • GA LEO

      February 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      Yes, we can.

  2. Lolfuck12

    December 8, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Cops are all crooked that’s my opinion haven’t met a decent one yet here in Georgia there racist as fuck in chatt there dirty and racist there just gang bangers in blue this whole government is just Fucked we need revolution we know what side the piggies are on already and it definitely not the citizens

  3. Mark

    October 3, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    No you cannot. You are public servants, who are paid by the public. You have to have a blue light visible, if the the vehicle being used, is routinely used for traffic operations. Learn too read before sound so arrogant and foolish. This is the reason so many people have lost all respect for you. You have abandoned your primary CONSTITUTIONAL duty, to protect and serve, and moved straight to subjugation and profit. It’s sad and extremely pathetic, that you cant see that. Or can you? You should be ashamed of yourselves, no doubt you’re not though.

  4. Tony G Wortham-Collins

    July 18, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    What if the Leo has no lights or identifying markings on his vehicle? I honestly thought he was just trying to run me off the road.

  5. Concerned citizens

    March 24, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-8-91 (2020)
    Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, any motor vehicle which is used on official business by any person authorized to make arrests for traffic violations in this state, or any municipality or county thereof, shall be distinctly marked on each side and the back with the name of the agency responsible therefor, in letters not less than four inches in height.
    Any motor vehicle, except as hereinafter provided in this subsection, used by any employee of the Georgia State Patrol for the purpose of enforcing the traffic laws of this state shall be distinctly painted, marked, and equipped in such manner as shall be prescribed by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to this Code section. The commissioner in prescribing the manner in which such vehicles shall be painted, marked, or equipped shall:
    Require that all such motor vehicles be painted in a two-toned uniform color or a solid color. For vehicles painted in a two-toned uniform color, the hood, top, and the top area not to exceed 12 inches below the bottom of the window opening thereof shall be a light gray color and the remaining portion of said motor vehicle shall be painted a dark blue color;
    Require that any such motor vehicle be equipped with at least one lamp which when lighted shall display a flashing or revolving colored light visible under normal atmospheric conditions for a distance of 500 feet from the front and rear of such vehicle; and
    Require that any such motor vehicle shall be distinctly marked on each side and the back thereof with the wording “State Patrol” in letters not less than six inches in height of a contrasting color from the background color of the motor vehicle.
    It shall be unlawful for any person, except persons lawfully entitled to own vehicles for law enforcement purposes, to paint, mark, or equip any motor vehicle in the same manner prescribed by this Code section or by the commissioner for law enforcement vehicles.

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