Cops Running Radar From Private Property - Legal?

OK, any specific response would require knowledge of a specific locality’s laws. I am hoping there is a generic legal thought behind this query.

Case in point. Last Saturday we were driving (under the legal speed limit) along a city street in a residential area. The street is a significant cross street (two lanes both directions). We noticed ahead on the right side, a police car was parked perpendicular to the street on a private unimproved residential lot (lots of wild grass, no bushes or trees), with it’s front bumper more than 20-30 feet from the street. Sticking out of the driver’s window was a radar gun.

Is this legal? Can the police run radar from private property attempting to catch speeders on a public street? Must the police secure permission from the property owner? Or is it outright legal/illegal?

I ask because some years ago in my hometown (MadCity, WI), the police tried this very same thing, sitting in the parking lot of a funeral home with radar trained down the street. IIRC, someone challenged their ticket in court and the judge not only threw out their ticket, but every ticket the police issued under similar circumstances.

I have a call in with the local city attorney on Saturday’s observation and await their response. In the meantime, I hope some Dopers can shed some lght on this.

Can’t say if it’s legal or not, but in Milwaukee county they do it all the time. I’ve seen them in driveways, on abandoned lots and what was a hugely popular one, my dad’s business parking lot (so popular that 5 years later, people still hit the breaks as they go past it). The nice thing about one of your examples is that when they’re 30 feet away from the road, they’ll clock you as slower then you’re actually going. Think back to trig.

Had to add this

I would imagine that if police officers are on your property and there’s no immediate and urgent need, they need to secure permission to do whatever they are doing or they are trespassing, no?

I mean either permission from you or the court.

I think you have to have a no trespassing sign

It might depend on permission. A bunch of neighbrs here complained about excessive speed on our street. We’re on a curve and the police said they had no good place to monitor traffic from but if a neighbor would allow them to sit in the driveway they would do it. This is in CT.

It is not illegal. At least in New Jersey. There are a very few specific statutes that can be written for motor vehicle violations. That means that the offender is on public property not the officer observing it. If the property owner requested the officer to use someplace else he would comply. In my experience we have been asked to use someone’s property much more often than asked to leave. Most people are not too happy about speeders going through their neighborhood.

There are a very few specific statutes that can be written for motor vehicle violations on private property. :smack: kind of changes the whole meaning.

Right. It’s almost certainly not going to be a defense to a speeding ticket that the cop was on private property. But they generally need the property owner’s permission to be there. If they are on the property without permission, it’s probably between them and the property owner.

I found this:

This is off topic but you don’t have to have a “no trespassing” sign on your property for it to be trespassing to be there without permission.

Seems to be common practice here in CA. There are a few areas where everyone tends to speed that also have a high population of tow companies and used car dealerships. Officers regularly park themslves among the scattering of cars to camoflage themselves.

Off topic. But there are some broad reaching general ones. A lot of states have statues that prohibit operating any motorized vehicle under the influance of alcohol (or a controled substance) anywhere within the boundries of the state. Back to topic.

Yes, but if you don’t have one, there is limited trouble to be had for the trespasser. A person must be warned first for something to qualify as criminal trespass. In Florida, not only must you have a sign, but it needs to be a specific size with specific sized font and the signs must be spaced a certain distance apart.

The same goes for parking your car overnight on private property, like a Wal-Mart, or gas station. If there is no “Tow Away Zone” sign, then the property owner cannot tow the vehicle!

It is impossible to make a blanket statement to cover all states and local laws. In general you have two types of trespass laws. Trespass and defiant trespass. The first is just being on private property without permission. The second is being there when expressly told to leave and not come back or walking past the numerous no trespassing signs on the property. We usually will give a warning in the first case and arrest if they come back. It is possible to charge for trespass with no signs or warning but I have never done it. In either case it would be a summons and release.

I’m pretty sure that’s what I said. But apparantly not that well.

In New Jersey the following statutes can be enforced on private property:
39:3-40- Driving while suspended
39:4-48 - Using motor vehicle without owners consent
39:4-49 - interfering/tampering with motor vehicle
39:4-50 - DWI
39:4-56.6 Abandonment of vehicles on private property
39:4-69 - Riding on parts not intended for passengers
39:4-96 - Reckless Driving
39:4-97 - Careless Driving
39:4-97a - Destruction of agricultural or recreational property
39:4-129 - Leaving the scene of an accident
39:4-130 - Failure to report an accident
39:4-138o - Handicap parking violation
There are hundreds of traffic violations which are not enforceable on private property.

As I stated before what counts is where the offender is, not the officer observing it.

It’s certainly legal in Ohio, and often happens. What’s important for purposes of the citation is the location of the (alleged) speeder, and not where the police where when they zapped him or her with the radar gun (assuming they had a clear line-of-sight).

If the property owner asked the police to move, they would be obliged to. There’ll always be somewhere else where they can park, though - I’ve never seen a case where the police insisted they had to park on that particular patch of private property, and nowhere else. Not gonna happen.

How could those possibly be enforceabel on private property? You need a license to drive on private property? How are they going to pull you over? Breathalyze you? Sounds like these are just waiting for a court challenge…

Pretend I spelled everything correctly. :smack:

If they observe you drinking while working on your car all day in the driveway and then watch you get into your car they can come onto your property because they saw a crime commited.

If you get into a wreck and an ambulance is called they can come onto your property as well and test you for DUI.

I’ve seen people in private campgrounds get the law called on them by the property owners for driving thier car on the bike ways.

You are not invisible just because you are on private property, espicially if the property in question is not yours. :rolleyes: