I was reading an interesting article not long ago about the fact that many Uber and Lyft drivers are actually breaking the law without realizing it.
See, a lot of ride-share drivers have these light-up signs in their cars, often in the front windshield, that say “Uber” or “Lyft” and make them easier to spot at night.
The thing is, in most states, it’s completely illegal to have colored lights (depending on the color) mounted in your car.
This is because in many cases you could impersonate a police officer – and that’s actually a bigger problem than you might realize.
There have been LOTS of reports of “fake cops” pulling people over.
- In Georgia, a man dressed in a fake uniform pulled over a kid on a bike and made him empty his pockets.
- In Illinois, a man with flashing lights on his car pulled over a driver and tried to attack him through the driver’s open window (but the driver got away).
- Just a few months ago, in Virginia, a man with a flashing blue light mounted on the dash of his SUV pulled over a woman and made her hand over her information — all so he could get her address and other personal details.
(To me, that’s the most disturbing one, because it means he intended to come back and victimize her later.)
Obviously, then, you want to make sure you don’t get victimized by a “fake cop”… but as you all know from watching the news, disobeying a real police officer could be very dangerous to you.
So what do you do?
Well, most of the time, a real police officer will be driving a marked car, have a real badge (and credentials you are entitled to see), and have obvious law enforcement equipment (a gun, a taser, a duty belt, etc.).
That’s not to say a dedicated “fake cop” couldn’t put together all that gear, but most don’t bother.
(The weirdo in Virginia had just a taser on his belt, which should have been a dead giveaway.)
If someone claiming to be a police officer tries to stop you, you are within your rights to ask for a marked, uniformed police presence, and the fastest way to do that is to dial 911 on your wireless phone.
The same goes for if a car behind you is trying to pull you over.
Dial 911, ask the police to verify that they have an officer at your location pulling you over, and drive to a public area.
Now, I know there have been incidents where REAL cops overreacted to drivers who did not pull over right away, but in almost all states, it’s legal to put on your 4-way flashers and find a well-lighted, public area to pull over.
Your goal is simply to verify that the person pulling you over really is a cop, and the 911 operator should be able to do that for you.
It’s obviously a fine line… because if it IS a real cop and you gun it or otherwise resist, you could be putting your own life in danger.
But if it’s NOT a real cop and he’s intent on hurting you, kidnapping you, or much worse, you obviously don’t simply want to cooperate.
Given that there are no easy answers to this scenario, I’m interested in what you think.
If you were pulled over or stopped by a cop, what would you look for to verify his identity?
How would you respond if you thought he was suspicious?
Leave your comments now, because this is an important issue that we NEED to talk about.