No, You Can’t Write a Cop a Ticket for Talking on a Cell Phone

Our opinion editor, Jim Campbell, recently got a letter from Matthews Williams, of Shelton. Williams says this:

“I’m new here, arrived in January 2005, so I’m a bit confused.  I thought that the state legislature voted into law earlier this year that cell phone use must be hands free.

The reason I am confused is that today, September 15th, I noticed a Bremerton policeman on his cell phone while driving in traffic on Kitsap Way and a bit later on Austin Way.  I do understand that this is considered a secondary offence, meaning that he would have to be stoped for another infraction before he could be cited for this.

Since my car is not equipped with lights or a siren I would not have been able to make the traffic stop if he had committed an additional infraction.

Rather than going out and having my car equipped to facilitate traffic stops I have a better idea.  How about the duely appointed officers that are paid with our tax monies follow the rules like everyone is supposed to and set the right example.”

To answer Mr. Williams, I consulted the law, and found a quick answer: Remember that emergency vehicles — which include patrol cruisers — are exempt from it.

This passage says it all: ” … this section does not apply to a person operating: (a) An authorized emergency vehicle, or a tow truck responding to a disabled vehicle.”

4 thoughts on “No, You Can’t Write a Cop a Ticket for Talking on a Cell Phone

  1. Hey U oughta sign up for the next test and join one of the PD’s sounds like you’re a wannabe, at least buy a copy of the state vehicle Law and study it then you’d know better what you’re talking about…..same thing applies to seat belts and driving the wrong way on a one way street, ad infinitium, (emergency vehicle), yada yada.

  2. Matthews Williams has a valid point.

    In this day and age of earphones, why should any officer be exempted from common sense law.
    The officer should not be distracted from the task on hand and she should not be held above the law.

    In my opinion… and only because lightweight, inexpensive, unobtrusive headphones are available and used by everyone else.

    Maybe Costco would donate such earphones to the patrol cars????
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. I’m glad you asked Sharon… Often patrol officers must communicate with CenCom (Central Communications) without all of scanner-land hearing what they’re saying. Many officers use earphones for their radio, so they cannot use another earphone for their cell phone without breaking communications with Cencom.

    On top of all that, they train twice yearly to drive their vehicles in all types of situations. The average citizen, in comparison, takes a driving test once in a lifetime.

  4. Thank you, Officer PD…I understand two sets of earplugs in one ear would be unwieldy – and unnecessary under the circumstances.

    Good point too…most citizens take a driving test once…not only one time in their lifetime but not under the same acquirement as the officer.
    Thanks for taking the time…
    Sharon O’Hara

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