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Dumb Street Racer Busted After Racing Unmarked Police Car

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on July 30, 2013 10:34 AM

A dumb street racer was arrested after he pulled up alongside an unmarked state trooper's vehicle in Washington state, flashed a peace sign, and tried to race the officer.

After the racer's VW Jetta allegedly reached speeds of 120 miles an hour -- a bit too fast and too furious for the trooper -- the officer turned on his colored lights. In a state of shock, the Jetta driver hit the brakes "so hard that the back end of the vehicle was fish tailing," the trooper told The Olympian.

The 24-year-old speed demon was arrested for reckless driving as well as driving with a suspended license.

But are unmarked cop cars even legal in Washington state?

Washington Law

In Washington, publicly owned vehicles typically must be marked. However, there are many exceptions to the rule.

For example, the Washington state patrol may use unmarked cars for general undercover or confidential investigative purposes. In addition, the state patrol may use unmarked cars for traffic control purposes, but only at the discretion of the chief of the Washington state patrol.

The trooper who busted the speed demon is a fan of using unmarked cars for traffic stops -- and he isn't alone. In New York, officers recently started using special unmarked SUVs to spot texting drivers.

Safety Concerns

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the use of unmarked cars for routine traffic stops, however. Among the greatest concerns is the disturbing trend of criminals posing as policemen in unmarked cars.

A separate concern is the element of surprise.

In this case, shocking a 24-year-old driver traveling at speeds of 120 miles an hour may seem unnecessary and risky. If he had spun out of control and struck another driver, the trooper's actions could have done more harm than good, critics may point out.

But when you see dumb young drivers like this one, it's tempting to think the more unmarked cars, the merrier.

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