Most of the time, police agencies use marked vehicles to pull cars over. But State Police are utilizing unmarked cars in an effort to crack down on distracted driving. Although Troopers say, "imposters" are rare in the state; our Iris St. Meran has tips on what to do if you have concerns about an unmarked police car trying to pull you over.
NEW YORK STATE -- Instinctively, when most people see these flashing lights in their rear view mirror they pull over to the side of the road and wait for the officer to approach.
Some agencies, like the New York State Police are utilizing unmarked vehicles for traffic stops known as Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement or CITE vehicles.
New York State Trooper Jack Keller said, "Since July 4th of this year until November 25, of this year, we've written over 32,000 tickets using these CITE vehicles. And for that 23,000 were for cell phones."
It wasn't until recently that troopers started using CITE vehicles again. Trooper Keller said in 1996 Governor Pataki issued an executive order prohibiting state law enforcement from using unmarked cars for routine traffic stops.
In 2008, Governor Paterson ended that executive order. If you have concerns about the authenticity of the unmarked car during a traffic stop you can verify it by calling 911.
"You're going to tell them you're on such and such road and you're getting pulled over. More than likely the 911 Center is going to see that officer in that area,” Keller explained “If it isn't and it doesn't indicate there's an officer there, certainly they will dispatch an officer to that area immediately."
Under the vehicle and Traffic Law, Keller said you are obligated to pull over. He said you should use your hazard lights or signal to indicate you are going to pull over and you should stay in your car.
Keller said it is very rare that someone will pose as a police officer. He said the emergency lights on a legit CITE vehicle are brighter than marked cars and the officer will almost always be in uniform.
Keller went on to say, "You're going to notice when a person is walking up, they're going to ask you for your license, registration, and insurance card. If someone's asking you questions that don't make sense or if you don't feel safe, for whatever reason you do have the ability to call 911."
To ensure your safety and the safety of the officer you should stop in a safe area, away from traffic and on the shoulder. Find a well lit area if you can, where you're visible to others.
Keller said an imposter won't want to stop somewhere like a store parking lot because people are around and keep your hands on the steering wheel.