Question: Can you tell unmarked police cars by their license plates? -- Stephanie, Parkland
Answer: The answer to the question is Maybe yes and maybe no, says Brad Benfield, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Licensing.
"There are a couple of different ways that cop cars have plates," Benfield said. They can have standard exempt plates, which all government vehicles are required to have. Thats generally how things work.
But law enforcement agencies also can apply for standard-issue plates through the Department of Licensings Confidential Plate Program, Benfield said. That allows them to use plates that look just like everybody elses on unmarked vehicles or for undercover operations.
If police cars are not licensed in the Confidential Plate Program, they can be identified by tax-exempt plates, which have the letters XMT printed vertically on the left side and then four numbers followed by the letter D or C. Those with the letter D are city vehicles; those with a C are county vehicles.
Washington State Patrol cars generally have XMT plates with four-digit numbers followed by the letters SP. Some State Patrol plates have a series of numbers followed by a dash and the letters WSP.