Police and the hands-free cell phone law

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.

5 thoughts on “Police and the hands-free cell phone law

  1. This is an example where people consider themselves above the law. Cellphones are not more secure then any other communication device the police are using, ask any HAM operator.

    Cellphones actually conceal information as you now only have a few people knowing what is going on instead of a radio that is in contact with all police and can be recorded for evidence later.

    Just like police driving faster, blowing through stop signs or using their lights to run red lights only to turn them back off once they’re clear of the intersection; this is just one more thing to add to the list of “privileges” the police abuse.

  2. Cellphones are indeed more secure than their primary radio systems. And I am a ham in case it comes up…But Im also someone who knows this technology. Cellphones are all digital now so no scanners.

    Generally if the officer is speaking to his dispatcher, that call is being recorded.

    Your right. Cellphones do conceal information. Like victim information, and things they might not want the general public to know about a crime that has been committed in order to help convict the guilty.

  3. It is not the fact that an officer uses his cell phone to his ear … THE LAW SATES WHILE DRIVING!! The officer should have to abide by the law and pull over to a safe place. OH WAIT!! Sitting on the shoulder of any road to make or take a phone call is ALSO illegal and will get you a $124 ticket!! DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T!!!

  4. I agree that cell phone communications are more secure than radio communications, its harder to tap in to the lines. And also, cell phones are more convenient to use these days.

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