The in basket: Duane, who didn’t provide his last name, said in an e-mail that he was reminded by a story about a woman killed while talking on her cell phone while driving that “a few weeks ago I passed a Kitsap County sheriff in uniform in a fully marked county sheriff car talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.
“If our own county sheriffs aren’t following the laws they are supposed to enforce, how can he be expected to cite someone for the very thing he also does?” Duane asked.
“This needs to be exposed in the media and we need much more coverage about the newest change to the cell phone law,” he said. “I still am having to avoid drivers who are talking or texting while driving on a regular basis. And seeing a county sheriff doing so while driving really encouraged me to believe the law will be enforced!”
The out basket: If a cell phone user has somehow not learned of the toughening of the state law, making texting and holding a cell phone to one’s ear while driving a primary offense citable without any accompanying driving infraction, I doubt that mention here will reach that person. But consider it mentioned. It’s effective June 10.
Police are exempt from the law, as are ambulance drivers, tow truck operators, other emergency vehicles and the average citizen when reporting an emergency or crime.
Nonetheless, police departments can require compliance with the law by its officers as a matter of policy. As Kitsap Sun Crime and Courts reporter Josh Farley reported on his blog and in the paper in April, the State Patrol has done so, and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is considering it.
But I’m sure there are exceptions that will cause complaints like Duane’s. For example, cell phone communications are more secure than radio communications, so will be preferable under certain circumstances.
The KCSO spokesman said the department patrol cars have been equipped with hands-free devices that are “crystal clear,” to encourage doing what the law requires of others.
I hope they’re that good. I’ve had routine problems sending and receiving calls on the two hands-free devices I’ve owned, whether reception-related or caused by my flawed understanding of the device.
I’m going to experiment with using the speakerphone feature on my cell phone and just having it in my lap during conversations to see how that works as an alternative. If the phone isn’t held to your ear, and you’re not texting, you’re legal.