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The answer depends on your state and the type of scanner and its use
Several states require a permit or FCC amateur license for mobile police scanner usage. New York and Florida are suxch states. Radio scanners that are decryption-capable would be a violation of FCC regularions and United States law.
In the United States, it is always illegal to use a a radio scanner to:
Possible offenses vary as well. It is a felony in most statees to intercept a call between other individuals. Possessing a scanner in violation of the law is often a misdemeanor level offense.
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The New York law appears below. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail. In most instances, if the scanner is noticed, you would be cited. However, often, if you were stopped for a greater infraction, the officer will cite you only for the more serious infraction.
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397. EQUIPPING MOTOR VEHICLES WITH RADIO RECEIVING SETS CAPABLE OF RECEIVING SIGNALS ON THE FREQUENCIES ALLOCATED FOR POLICE USE.
A person, not a police officer or peace officer, acting pursuant to his special duties, who equips a motor vehicle with a radio receiving set capable of receiving signals on the frequencies allocated for police use or knowingly uses a motor vehicle so equipped or who in any way knowingly interferes with the transmission of radio messages by the police without having first secured a permit to do so from the person authorized to issue such a permit by the local governing body or board of the city, town or village in which such person resides, or where such person resides outside of a city, or village in a county having a county police department by the board of supervisors of such county, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.
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