• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

    We've noticed a huge increase in rants and negative posts that revolve around agencies going to encryption due to the broadcasting of scanner audio on the internet. It's now worn out and continues to be the same recycled rants. These rants hijack the threads and derail the conversation. They no longer have a place anywhere on this forum other than in the designated threads in the Rants forum in the Tavern.

    If you violate these guidelines your post will be deleted without notice and an infraction will be issued. We are not against discussion of this issue. You just need to do it in the right place. For example:
    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Legality of Scanners

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#1
Is it illegal to have a scanner built in to your car in NYC? Can you have a mobile scanner? I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble but I was wondering what the legality is of monitoring police. For example, if I were to get pulled over and the officer were to see the mobile scanner, what would happen?

**Edit:
I am sure that this question has been answered hundreds of times and that perhaps the law varies from state to state. I have done some research and found that it is a misdemeanor to have a scanner BUILT IN to your car (as in to the fuse panel) and monitor police frequencies, unless said scanner is unplugged or non-functional. However, a mobile scanner such as many of the Uniden ones like the BC246T etc. are NOT illegal and you can bring this with you in your car as long as: you do not use this scanner in FURTHERANCE OF A CRIME (evading police, etc) and you don't use it for OPPORTUNISTIC GAIN (tow truck driver getting to an accident scene faster to get business, or a taxi driver intercepting a call to get there more quickly). Anyone have any comments or laws regarding this? Any experiences? I like bringing my mobile scanner in the car with me to monitor some of my local precincts for fun and as long as I'm not doing anything wrong I don't see how I could get in trouble. Please tell me what you guys think or know about this subject, though.
 
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#2
New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits "equipping" a motor vehicle with a radio that is "capable" of receiving police frequencies unless one is a Peace Officer, has a permit, or is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as an amateur radio operator. The so-called “ham exemption” is subject to conflicting interpretations, as are certain provisions of the mobile scanner law. New York’s various statutes governing lawful use of radio leave important gaps in their protection of communications that may be essential to homeland security from unauthorized interception and hostile use, while unduly restricting the activities of law-abiding citizens and even public safety personnel. They also appear to conflict with some Federal regulations. see NF2G Scannist Pages
http://nf2g.com/scannist/index.html
 

LathamScan

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#3
I copied this directly from the NYS Legislator's website.

§ 397. Equipping motor vehicles with radio receiving sets capable of
receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use. A
person, not a police officer or peace officer, acting pursuant to his
special duties, who equips a motor vehicle with a radio receiving set
capable of receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use
or knowingly uses a motor vehicle so equipped or who in any way
knowingly interferes with the transmission of radio messages by the
police without having first secured a permit so to do from the person
authorized to issue such a permit by the local governing body or board
of the city, town or village in which such person resides, or where such
person resides outside of a city or village in a county having a county
police department by the board of supervisors of such county, is guilty
of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand
dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both. Nothing in
this section contained shall be construed to apply to any person who
holds a valid amateur radio operator's license issued by the federal
communications commission and who operates a duly licensed portable
mobile transmitter and in connection therewith a receiver or receiving
set on frequencies exclusively allocated by the federal communications
commission to duly licensed radio amateurs.

Now, here are my issues:

1. "Equipping motor vehicles with radio receiving sets capable of
receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use"

I do believe the Federal Communications Commission has re-classified their spectrum for all public safety users into a Public Safety Group. There aren't frequencies 'allocated' for police use anymore. Any public safety frequency is now open to any and all. A PD may use a frequency in Albany County, but in Warren County it may be used by a FD.

2. "A person, not a police officer or peace officer, acting pursuant to his
special duties, who equips a motor vehicle with a radio receiving set
capable of receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use
or knowingly uses a motor vehicle so equipped or who in any way
knowingly interferes with the transmission of radio messages by the
police without having first secured a permit so to do from the person
authorized to issue such a permit by the local governing body or board
of the city, town or village in which such person resides, or where such
person resides outside of a city or village in a county having a county
police department by the board of supervisors of such county, is guilty
of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand
dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both."

(This has to be one of the longest sentences I have ever read) What is the defintion of a 'radio receiving set'? I work in the two-way radio business and guess what, two-way radios have receivers in them. Not only that, almost all two-way radios manufactured today are programmable. In that sense, doesn't that make ALL two-way radio equipped vehicles 'capable' of receiving police frequencies? I have a GE MDX EDACS radio in my truck for work. Troy PD uses GE MDX EDACS radios in their cruisers. We use the same radio, which means that my radio is 'capable' of receiving police frequencies. Therefore, am I in violation of this law?

Just my 2 cents. Personally, I hate this law and I think it needs to go. Just because of how poorly it's written.

Kevin
 
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#4
willr10 said:
I have done some research and found that it is a misdemeanor to have a scanner BUILT IN to your car (as in to the fuse panel) and monitor police frequencies, unless said scanner is unplugged or non-functional. However, a mobile scanner such as many of the Uniden ones like the BC246T etc. are NOT illegal and you can bring this with you in your car as long as: you do not use this scanner in FURTHERANCE OF A CRIME (evading police, etc) and you don't use it for OPPORTUNISTIC GAIN (tow truck driver getting to an accident scene faster to get business, or a taxi driver intercepting a call to get there more quickly). Anyone have any comments or laws regarding this?

It's a bit of a stretch. I would strongly suggest you first reference the definition of equip as that is the term used in the VTL section. The second part you refer to as furtherance of a crime is in fact covered in another section of law. So with that I might suggest you read a copy of Dave Starks paper on the subject with regards to NY state law.
 

gcr33

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#5
There is a totaly separate section of the NYS Penal law which prohibts the use of a radio device during the commission of certain crimes.

And yes people have been given tickets for having a scanner in the car.
 
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#6
The chance of getting caught for having a scanner in your car is so remote it's really not even worth worrying about.
 

7586

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#7
scanner

just dont get caught :)

Its illegal, to monitor police in a car in Nys. YES, but mostly everybody has speeded, talked on the cell phone while driving and has not worn a seat belt at least once.
 

DaveNF2G

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#8
And as you will find if you read my article, NYC has its own law against mobile scanners (as it does against a lot of other things that are legal elsewhere in the state).
 
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#9
ansky said:
The chance of getting caught for having a scanner in your car is so remote it's really not even worth worrying about.
Thats true even if you are a perfect driver .But when you end up in a car accident and a scanner is in the vehical watch out thats another ticket.

Or even now us boarder patrol is looking at vehicals with antennas on them as silly as it sounds ......

I also know of other tricks that are played when they think someone has a scanner in their vehical.....
 
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#11
This has been covered many times, so I just want to add once again:

Possession of a scanner in a car in NY is NOT NECESSARILY a "ticket". It is a MISDEMEANOR, which is by definition a CRIME. You can be ARRESTED!! At the option of the Police Officer, you can "go downtown" in handcuffs, and even have your car seized as an "instrumentality of the crime".

No, I don't think anyone, absent some other offense, will actually be sentenced to jail for possession of a scanner in a car, BUT IT IS A CRIME, therefore you CAN BE ARRESTED. And then you will get a lawyer and pay lots of money for a defense.

So it is probably a good idea just to leave it home.

And NO, it does not have to be MOUNTED or INSTALLED, a portable is illegal.

That being said, don't get mad a me,

I don't make the laws, I just enforce them.
 

newsnick175

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#12
This law is unique in that it makes the assumption that you are up to no good. It is perfictly legal to stand on any street corner in any city in NY with a hand held scanner and monitor any transmission it is capable of recieving. The moment you sit down in a car with that radio, your guilty! The law is unessary because there is already laws to punish people for using a scanner in the commision of a crime. Whether you are in a car or on foot
 
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DaveNF2G

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#13
newsnick175 said:
It is perfictly legal to stand on any street corner in any city in NY with a hand held scanner and monitor any transmition it is capable of recieving.
Except for Rochester and New York City.
 

ernie2249

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#15
Just a quick note in regards to volunteer firefighters/career firefighters, and EMS personnel with scanners mounted or even a handheld in their vehicles. How does this antiquated law cover them? I know many firefighters that have more than just their department issued pager in their vehicles with them. These scanners are used to monitor what's going on re: a particular call as they can get much more info on the call then via their department pager. Having been a career firefighter for over 33 years, I have had both mounted and handheld scanners in my vehicles. I also thought being a licensed ham radio operator would preclude myself from getting a ticket. Most ham radio, although not being able to transmit (without illegal modifications) still can be programmed to scan other frequencies including police channels. Groups such as SKYWARN, and RACES for two would necessitate the ham operator to have either mounted or handheld or both types of radios in their vehicles with them. I think its time for the legislators to either ditch this law or do a drastic update. Just my 2 cents.
 

chrismol1

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#16
ernie2249 said:
Just a quick note in regards to volunteer firefighters/career firefighters, and EMS personnel with scanners mounted or even a handheld in their vehicles. How does this antiquated law cover them? I know many firefighters that have more than just their department issued pager in their vehicles with them. These scanners are used to monitor what's going on re: a particular call as they can get much more info on the call then via their department pager. Having been a career firefighter for over 33 years, I have had both mounted and handheld scanners in my vehicles. I also thought being a licensed ham radio operator would preclude myself from getting a ticket. Most ham radio, although not being able to transmit (without illegal modifications) still can be programmed to scan other frequencies including police channels. Groups such as SKYWARN, and RACES for two would necessitate the ham operator to have either mounted or handheld or both types of radios in their vehicles with them. I think its time for the legislators to either ditch this law or do a drastic update. Just my 2 cents.
I agree that it needs an update. Just before this law came into effect there was an uproar as criminals were using scanners to evade the police, just as people with radar detecors evade speed traps. They needed a quick way to stop the criminals from listening in as they WERENT going to spend millions on radio system upgrades, so they just made a law that its illegal all together and for saftey from public prosecution they added that ham radio operators were excluded in this law.
 
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#17
It is NOT illegal to possess a scanner on the street in NYC. I don't know where that info comes from. It is only ILLEGAL in a motor vehicle, or in the commission of a crime ( and if they got you for that, the scanner is not really a concern at that point).

Although, just about everything IS illegal in NYC.
 

DaveNF2G

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#19
scosgt said:
It is NOT illegal to possess a scanner on the street in NYC. I don't know where that info comes from. It is only ILLEGAL in a motor vehicle, or in the commission of a crime ( and if they got you for that, the scanner is not really a concern at that point).

Although, just about everything IS illegal in NYC.
With apologies, I stand corrected. NYC requires a permit for mobile scanner installation (in addition to any permits issued by anyone under the State law). The Acministrative Code does not cover portable receivers used outside of automobiles.
 
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#20
try driving in nys with a PA dare tag,they have the same setup as nysp cars ie: 4k26,we do some work for njsp and i have a 800 ant on my camaro with a 2D## dare tag,evertime we go in nys we get stoped.
 
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