You're driving over the speed limit and suddenly you see a police car coming toward you in the opposite direction, so you hit the brakes hoping that they didn't catch you on the radar. But as the car passes, you notice something is different about that police car. Is that even a police officer at the wheel?

What you probably saw was someone who was not a police officer behind the wheel. But is that legal in Maine?

Police DUI Nigh Time Checkpoint. Police Cruiser Lights Closeup Photo.

The answer is yes, under certain conditions.

In Maine, and most states in the country, police departments will auction off old vehicles that anyone can purchase and drive, and there are many who do just that. It's perfectly legal to own a former police vehicle, but some things are done to it before they hand you the keys.

The lights and sirens are removed as well as the markings on it that designates it as a police car. Any additional equipment installed in the vehicle for police use only is also removed.

Once that's done, the vehicle can be driven by civilians as long as they don't try to make it look like they are a police officer by illegally installing blue lights. Most owners of former police cars know the rules and don't put things in the car that make it look like an actual police car.

One hint that the police car you see is a former police car is if it is a Ford Crown Victoria. They look like this.

The Maine State Police and many local police departments used Crown Vic's until Ford stopped manufacturing them in 2011. Many departments then switched to SUV's such as the Ford Explorer.

So yes, you can own and legally drive a former police car, even if it's still painted in police colors. Just don't pretend you're the police.

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