What is the purpose of the program? A significant number of auto thefts are committed during the early morning hours when the owners are asleep and unaware that their vehicles have been stolen. In many instances, a stolen car can be driven to a "chop shop" or across State lines before the owner awakens to discover the theft.
If a vehicle is not stolen for the purpose of resale or disassembly for the procurement of its parts, it may be used in the commission of another crime. In any event, a thief wants to avoid being noticed and will forgo vehicles that draw the attention of law enforcement officials.
The purpose of the Watch Your Car program is to identify vehicles that are not routinely operated during the early morning hours or near international land borders or ports so that law enforcement officers can investigate auto theft before a stolen vehicle report has been filed.
What is required to register?
The vehicle owner wishing to participate in the "Watch Your Car" program will be required to sign a registration/waiver form consenting to the provisions of the "Watch Your Car" Program. The owner must understand the following:
- The vehicle is not normally operated between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- The vehicle may be stopped if it is being operated by anyone during the above/specified time.
- The vehicle and ownership information will be entered into the Alabama "Watch Your Car" program database, which is available to all ACJIC capable agencies.
- It is the owner's responsibility to inform individuals operating their vehicle that the vehicle is registered with the "Watch Your Car" Program and is subject to being stopped by the police during the hours between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- Proof of ownership will be required at the time of sign up.
Where do I go to register?
You can register for the program at The Montgomery Police Department's Community Oriented Policing Division, 3046 Fairwest Place, Montgomery, AL 36108, from 0800 to 1700 hours. For citizen convenience, alternate sign up locations will regularly be set up in various communities. You may call (334) 240-4800 for more information about the program.
Can an automobile owner consent to a voluntary stop of his or her automobile through voluntary participation in the Watch Your Car program?
An automobile owner can consent to a voluntary stop of his or her automobile through participation in the program. The program is voluntary; neither states nor citizens are required to participate in the program.
Consequently, when a person submits a program application form, he or she voluntarily consents to have his or her automobile stopped during the program hours for the purpose of determining the ownership of the automobile and the identity of the driver.
What happens if a car is stopped?
The registrant is informed that law enforcement officers will take certain precautions when stopping a vehicle during the program hours or when the vehicle is near an international land border or port, because the vehicle is suspected of being stolen.
- Motorists should pull over.
- Turn off the engine.
- If the stop is being made at night, turn on interior lights
- Motorists should also keep their hands on the steering wheel so they are clearly visible to the officer.
- The officer will ask for the motorist to present his or her driver's license and the vehicle's registration to verify that the driver is the legitimate owner of the vehicle.
Can an officer initiate a sobriety test if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the operator is driving under the influence of alcohol?
The decal provides the authority for an officer to stop an automobile displaying the decal during the program hours. As mentioned earlier, if an officer stops an automobile displaying the Watch Your Car decal, the officer would have the same authority to enforce the law he or she would have when stopping an automobile for any other reason.
Therefore, the administration of a breathalyzer test pursuant to an Watch Your Car stop would be permitted, provided there was probable cause to administer such test.
How much does the "Watch Your Car" Program cost?
There is a charge of $2.00 per participating vehicle for the purpose of registration and decal cost. Can multiple vehicles be registered by filling out one form? Each vehicle requires a separate registration form, decals, and/or devices.
How would a car owner withdraw from the "Watch Your Car" Program?
To withdraw from the program, the owner must report to the Montgomery Police Department Community Policing Division (3046 Fairwest Place) so that a Cancellation form may be completed, and then completely remove the decals and/or stickers from the car. The owner must also do this when selling the car or transferring ownership.