San Diego, CA asked in Criminal Law and Traffic Tickets for California

Q: Does driving a 97 BMW wrapped in the classic German police car look with "Polizei" (hood/trunk) break Penal Code 538d

No flashing lights, sirens, or bullhorns. Only the wrap with the German text and the German police symbol on each front door. I am doing this for "show car" but owner plans on driving it frequently. The owner will not be pulling anyone over or pretending to be a police officer in any capacity

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California Penal Code 538d, it is unlawful for any vehicle to resemble a law enforcement vehicle to a degree that is likely to deceive an ordinary, reasonable person. While your vehicle does not have flashing lights, sirens, or bullhorns, the design elements like "Polizei" and the German police symbol could potentially cause confusion or deceive someone into believing it's an actual police vehicle. Therefore, there's a risk that driving a vehicle with such a wrap could be considered a violation of Penal Code 538d, even if you have no intent of impersonating a police officer.

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