2020 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 8 - Equipment and Inspection of Motor Vehicles
Article 1 - Equipment Generally
Part 5 - Equipment of Law Enforcement and Emergency Vehicles
§ 40-8-91. Marking and Equipment of Law Enforcement Vehicles; Motorist Allowed to Continue to Safe Location Before Stopping for Law Enforcement Officer Vehicles

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-8-91 (2020)
  1. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, any motor vehicle which is used on official business by any person authorized to make arrests for traffic violations in this state, or any municipality or county thereof, shall be distinctly marked on each side and the back with the name of the agency responsible therefor, in letters not less than four inches in height.
  2. Any motor vehicle, except as hereinafter provided in this subsection, used by any employee of the Georgia State Patrol for the purpose of enforcing the traffic laws of this state shall be distinctly painted, marked, and equipped in such manner as shall be prescribed by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to this Code section. The commissioner in prescribing the manner in which such vehicles shall be painted, marked, or equipped shall:
    1. Require that all such motor vehicles be painted in a two-toned uniform color or a solid color. For vehicles painted in a two-toned uniform color, the hood, top, and the top area not to exceed 12 inches below the bottom of the window opening thereof shall be a light gray color and the remaining portion of said motor vehicle shall be painted a dark blue color;
    2. Require that any such motor vehicle be equipped with at least one lamp which when lighted shall display a flashing or revolving colored light visible under normal atmospheric conditions for a distance of 500 feet from the front and rear of such vehicle; and
    3. Require that any such motor vehicle shall be distinctly marked on each side and the back thereof with the wording "State Patrol" in letters not less than six inches in height of a contrasting color from the background color of the motor vehicle.
  3. It shall be unlawful for any person, except persons lawfully entitled to own vehicles for law enforcement purposes, to paint, mark, or equip any motor vehicle in the same manner prescribed by this Code section or by the commissioner for law enforcement vehicles.
  4. When a law enforcement vehicle is disposed of, or is not in use for law enforcement, the lettering and colored lights must be removed. Any person using such vehicle for personal use prior to removing colored lights and lettering shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  5. Whenever a motorist driving on the roadways of this state is directed to stop by a law enforcement officer in a law enforcement vehicle marked as required under this Code section, the motorist may continue to drive until a reasonably safe location for stopping is reached. Such motorist shall indicate to the officer his or her intent to proceed to a safe location by displaying the vehicle's flashing lights or turn signal. In proceeding to a safe location, the motorist shall observe the posted maximum speed limit.
  6. An otherwise lawful arrest shall not be invalidated or in any manner affected by failure to comply with this Code section.

(Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A; Ga. L. 1966, p. 166, § 1; Ga. L. 1976, p. 208, § 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 802, §§ 1-3; Ga. L. 1987, p. 3, § 405; Ga. L. 2006, p. 231, § 3/SB 64; Ga. L. 2006, p. 255, § 1/SB 454; Ga. L. 2010, p. 105, § 1-1/HB 981; Ga. L. 2014, p. 866, § 40/SB 340; Ga. L. 2018, p. 232, § 1/HB 809.)

The 2018 amendment, effective July 1, 2018, in paragraph (b)(1), added "or a solid color" at the end of the first sentence and substituted "For vehicles painted in a two-toned uniform color, the" for "The" at the beginning of the second sentence.

Cross references.

- Provision that marked vehicles normally used for transporting criminals or those accused of crime shall not be used for transporting mental patients, persons undergoing habilitation for mental retardation, alcoholics, or others, §§ 37-3-101,37-4-61,37-7-101.

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1988, "in" was substituted for "is" preceding "use for law enforcement" near the beginning of subsection (d).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2010, p. 105, § 3-1/HB 981, not codified by the General Assembly, provided for the repeal of the amendment to subsection (b) of this Code section by that Act, effective June 30, 2013.

Law reviews.

- For survey article on local government law, see 59 Mercer L. Rev. 285 (2007) and 60 Mercer L. Rev. 263 (2008).


Applicability of section limited.

- Ga. L. 1966, p. 166, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91) is applicable only in cases where vehicles are used in patrolling traffic or in making arrests for traffic violations. Clayton v. Taylor, 223 Ga. 346, 155 S.E.2d 387 (1967).

Construction with other law.

- County sheriff had the independent authority to repaint and remark county-owned sheriff's vehicles assigned to the sheriff's exclusive use, but lacked the authority to modify portions of a county-owned building in which the sheriff's office and jail were housed, as the facility was shared with the superior, state, and magistrate courts of Clayton County as well as the clerks of those courts, the solicitor general, and the district attorney, and hence, not under the sheriff's exclusive use; as a result, subject to compliance with O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91, summary judgment in favor of the county as to the extent of the sheriff's authority was reversed as to the former, but affirmed as to the latter. Hill v. Clayton County Bd. of Comm'rs, 283 Ga. App. 15, 640 S.E.2d 638 (2006), overruled on other grounds, Mayor & Aldermen of Savannah v. Batson-Cook Co., 291 Ga. 114, 728 S.E.2d 189 (Ga. 2012).

No marking of police cars as escort vehicles.

- In a suit by a driver who ran into a house while the house was being moved and escorted by police vehicles, there was no merit to the driver's argument that the police vehicles had to be marked as escort vehicles; that would be contrary to O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-6 and40-8-91, which mandate proper markings for police cars and do not allow those vehicles to have amber lights. Hersh v. Griffith, 284 Ga. App. 15, 643 S.E.2d 309 (2007).

Public policy to identify arresting vehicles.

- Ga. L. 1966, p. 166, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91) requires that motor vehicles used by the police on official business shall be marked on the back and on each side. This is an expression of the public policy of the state that vehicles used for the purpose of traffic arrests shall be identified. Clayton v. Taylor, 223 Ga. 346, 155 S.E.2d 387 (1967).

Civil action when failure to mark vehicle is proximate cause of injury.

- Vehicles used for the purpose of traffic arrests shall be identified, and when the failure to make such identification is the proximate cause of injury, a civil action will lie. Ross v. City of Lilburn, 114 Ga. App. 428, 151 S.E.2d 490 (1966).

No civil action if no causal connection exists.

- In an action for damages caused by a car collision, the court did not err in refusing to charge that the failure of the sheriff to have the sheriff's automobile distinctly marked on each side and the back, as provided by Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A, was negligence per se, since the defendant, who caused the collision in an attempt to outrun the sheriff's car, contended that the defendant did not know who was pursuing the defendant because such car was unmarked since there was no causal connection between the sheriff's failure to have the sheriff's automobile properly marked and the collision. Fountain v. Smith, 103 Ga. App. 192, 118 S.E.2d 852 (1961).

Arrests from unmarked vehicles.

- O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91 does not invalidate traffic arrests made in unmarked vehicles. State v. Carter, 215 Ga. App. 647, 451 S.E.2d 541 (1994).

O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91 did not require exclusion of the testimony of an officer who made an arrest for reckless driving in an unmarked vehicle. Gilbert v. State, 222 Ga. App. 787, 476 S.E.2d 39 (1996).

Flight from unmarked vehicle.

- Because the circumstances of the defendant's low-speed flight from an uniformed detective, who was driving an unmarked vehicle, were insufficient to present law enforcement with evidence of a particular crime, the defendant could not be charged with the crime of attempting to elude an officer, and police lacked probable cause sufficient to warrant an arrest for the offense; thus, the search incident to the arrest was invalid, warranting suppression of the evidence seized. Stephens v. State, 278 Ga. App. 694, 629 S.E.2d 565 (2006).

Stop by unmarked vehicle.

- O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91 did not require exclusion of the evidence obtained after an officer, who had been following the defendant in an unmarked police car based on a tip, pulled the defendant over after the defendant crossed the center line. Sapp v. State, 297 Ga. App. 218, 676 S.E.2d 867 (2009).

Cited in Poole v. City of Louisville, 107 Ga. App. 305, 130 S.E.2d 157 (1963); Ward v. State, 126 Ga. App. 214, 190 S.E.2d 444 (1972); Barron v. State, 157 Ga. App. 186, 276 S.E.2d 868 (1981); Thomas v. State, 261 Ga. App. 493, 583 S.E.2d 207 (2003); Batten v. State, 341 Ga. App. 332, 801 S.E.2d 57 (2017); Hall v. State, 351 Ga. App. 695, 832 S.E.2d 669 (2019).


Marking required of sheriff-owned automobile used for law enforcement.

- If the sheriff of a county is required to furnish the sheriff's own automobile for law enforcement purposes, even though the automobile is owned by the sheriff and the county does not furnish the sheriff with a motor vehicle for such purposes, such motor vehicle must be marked in accordance with Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91). 1954-56 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 897.

If a motor vehicle is owned by a sheriff as the sheriff's own individual motor vehicle but is used by the sheriff on official business to make arrests for traffic violations, such motor vehicle should be marked, under Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91). 1957 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 332.

Use of marked automobile by constable.

- Constable may use a marked automobile that is equipped with a colored light mounted on the cab and a siren, if the constable can do so without holding oneself out to the public as a county police officer. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-214.

Arrest made using unmarked vehicle valid.

- Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91) has no effect on the legality of any arrest which is made, and an arrest made by a sheriff or a deputy sheriff using an unmarked motor vehicle would be legal, if otherwise so. 1957 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 332.

Mandamus to enforce compliance with section.

- Petition for writ of mandamus brought by a taxpayer or member of the motoring public is the proper method to enforce compliance with Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, § 107A (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-8-91), requiring the marking of official vehicles. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-49.

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