Cell phone law not enforcable by police on private property

The in basket: Wendy Tweten e-mailed to say she understands that the newly strengthened cell phone law can be enforced on private property, like mall parking lots, unlike the seat belt law and just about any other except handicapped parking regulations.

“It was explained to me that, because of how the (cell phone)law is written,” Wendy said, “it applies to anyone, anywhere (police and emergency crews exempted, of course), who’s in control of a vehicle. The ticketed person in question was, reportedly, driving in a mall parking lot,” she said. It was second hand info from Snohomish County, she added.

The out basket: It’s not true, says State Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton office. Police agencies can’t write tickets on private property for what would be citable on the public streets, including the cell phone and seat belt laws.

“Handicapped parking tickets are the exception because they are non-traffic infractions (parking tickets),” she said. “They are typically issued by the (sheriff’s) Citizens on Patrol.  If the COP’s are not available, often a deputy will be notified.  I cannot think of a time where WSP was asked to respond to a handicapped parking complaint, and WSP does not handle parking lot collisions.”

Running a stop sign or other traffic error can come to bear in deciding fault and liability in a private property collision, but won’t generate a ticket.

Of course, if the private roadway in question is where it meets a public roadway, specific circumstances would determine whether a ticket might be written.

3 thoughts on “Cell phone law not enforcable by police on private property

  1. What happens when I’m mowing the lawn on my John Deere rider and I’m chit chatting about Brett Favre and his girlfriends in NY?

  2. How about enforcing cell phone use on the docks while loading the boats? People complain that the boats aren’t leaving on time…well, when someone is on the phone and not paying attention, This slows down the loading process…and it is my understanding the docks are public property not private.

  3. I wondered about the parking lot/mall question. Thanks.

    Here is another one for you. Several times in the past couple of weeks I have seen kids riding their bikes on public roads and talking on their cell phone or texting. Can they be cited? Does it make a difference if they don’t have a driver’s license?

    What about me, as a licensed driver, if I’m riding my bicycle on a public road and talking or texting, can I be cited?

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