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Mobile Use Legality


Indiana law states that it is illegal to use a police scanner outside of your place of dwelling with only a few exceptions not applying to most of our users.  However, Scan Whitley Online has researched this law and concludes the following:

IC 35-44-3-12 makes it illegal to use a police scanner outside of your place of dwelling.  However, IC 35-44-3-12 Section C states that such radio must be capable of receiving or transmitting signals transmitted on frequenices assigned for police emergency purposes.

Devices used to listen to our stream typically can not receive anything on the frequencies assigned for police emergency services.  In addition, although what you hear on Scan Whitley Online has the same context of the signals transmitted on such frequencies, they are in fact not the same signals.  They have been modified, reformatted, and retransmitted in an entirely different signal. 

Further, if this law applied to using your cell phone, for example, to listen to our stream it would be illegal if you are listening or not.  In fact, even if you had no idea our service existed using, or even possessing, your cell phone in public would be illegal.  All that is needed to connect to our stream is a media player and internet connection on your phone.  These two functions combine to make your cell phone "capable" of receiving our stream. 

 Scan Whitley Online advices users to exercise discretion and come to their own understanding of the law.  When it all comes down to it you have to weigh intent vs. letter of the law.  In the end, the letter of the law will almost always win.  However, since it is more moral to abide by the intent of the law, Scan Whitley Online does not endorse any use of our service outside your place of dwelling.

Now, we just want to plug this in also as pure opinion:  This law is outdated, unneeded, and only serves to impede on the safety of all citizens in Indiana.  It has never, nor will ever, prevent anyone using a police scanner in a malicious way (such as during the commision of a crime).  We believe that this law should be changed to only simply state this:  Any use of a mobile scanner shall be legal except when used during the commision of a felony.

It has come to our attention that an individual was arrested in Indiana for using a mobile police scanner application on his phone.  This individual however was using this application in the commision of a crime.  Despite this, the prosecutor decided not to charge this.  Most likely the prosecutor realized there was no way this would hold up in court.  Click here to read aboue this.



Below is the text of the law in question (emphasis added):

IC 35-44-3-12
Unlawful use of a police radio; exemptions; "police radio" defined
Sec. 12.

(a) A person who knowingly or intentionally:

(1) possesses a police radio;
(2) transmits over a frequency assigned for police emergency purposes; or
(3) possesses or uses a police radio:

(A) while committing a crime;
(B) to further the commission of a crime; or
(C) to avoid detection by a law enforcement agency;
commits unlawful use of a police radio, a Class B misdemeanor.

(b) Subsection (a)(1) and (a)(2) do not apply to:

(1) a governmental entity;
(2) a regularly employed law enforcement officer;
(3) a common carrier of persons for hire whose vehicles are used in emergency service;
(4) a public service or utility company whose vehicles are used in emergency service;
(5) a person who has written permission from the chief executive officer of a law enforcement agency to possess a police radio;
(6) a person who holds an amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission if the person is not transmitting over a frequency assigned for police emergency purposes;
(7) a person who uses a police radio only in the person's dwelling or place of business;
(8) a person:

(A) who is regularly engaged in newsgathering activities;
(B) who is employed by a newspaper qualified to receive legal advertisements under IC 5-3-1, a wire service, or a licensed commercial or public radio or television station; and
(C) whose name is furnished by his employer to the chief executive officer of a law enforcement agency in the county in which the employer's principal office is located;

(9) a person engaged in the business of manufacturing or selling police radios; or
(10) a person who possesses or uses a police radio during the normal course of the person's lawful business.

(c) As used in this section, "police radio" means a radio that is capable of sending or receiving signals transmitted on frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for police emergency purposes and that:

(1) can be installed, maintained, or operated in a vehicle; or
(2) can be operated while it is being carried by an individual.

The term does not include a radio designed for use only in a dwelling.

About us

Scan Whitley Online, launched in 2010, provides a free live stream of Whitley County, Indiana sheriff, police, fire, and ems scanner traffic.  We also provide free access to archives, a jail booking database, and recent events.  Scan Whitley Online is owned and operated by Whitley County resident Jeremy Jefferson. 

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