How to Tell If a Police Car Is Unmarked

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Often people slow down and drive carefully when they see a police car. However, police sometimes use unmarked cars to catch unsuspecting drivers who are speeding. These unmarked cars look the same as any other car on the road unless you know what to look for. Fortunately, there are a few ways to spot an unmarked police car.

Look at the License Plate

Although this will be different in different states, you can often tell that a car is an unmarked police car by looking at the license plates. The plates might be a different color from standard plates and they will often have “Municipal” or “County” written on the bottom. In some states, the plate number will start with a standard set of three numbers or letters. In Florida, the plates will be yellow, for instance.

Examine the Equipment on the Car

To really see some of the equipment, you will need to be at a stoplight or somewhere close to the car. Most unmarked police cars have certain equipment that is a dead giveaway, including the following:

  • Spotlight: You will often see a spotlight on the driver’s side by the side view mirror.
  • Crashbars: These bars are often across the front bumper and are there for protection in a chase.
  • Lights: Unmarked cars might not have the police lights across the top of the car but they will have them somewhere. You might see them in the grille, on top of the windshield or rear window, and on the mirrors.
  • Interior equipment: If you can see inside the car, you might see a stand for a computer, extra cameras, and other equipment mounted in front. They often have run racks and bars on the back windows as well as a divider between the front and back seats.
  • Antennae: In the past, antennae were easy to spot but they are subtler now. You might see a black disk mounted on the car with a wire heading to the trunk.

Check Out the Details of the Exterior

Unmarked police cars are meant to be low-profile so they will often have matte trim in place of chrome, black wheels, and other features so that they do not stand out. In addition, you will notice that they are always clean.

You can use these tips to spot unmarked police cars so that you can be sure to follow the traffic rules while you are out and about.

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