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Are police exempt from cellphone and blinker laws while driving?

I would like to know why the sheriff's department is exempt from the cellphone law and using their blinkers when they are turning?

— Tina, Central Point

Well, you're half-right, Tina. On the former, not the latter.

Public safety officers are included in the several exemptions to the state law that makes using a cellphone while driving illegal. Other exemptions include a person who is summoning medical or emergency help if there is no one else in the vehicle who can do it, those who are using the phone for agricultural or farming operations, operating an ambulance or other emergency vehicle, and several others.

You can see the complete list under ORS 811.507

Turn signals are a different matter, however. For the most part. Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police tells us officers responding to a severe incident — shots fired or an officer down, for example — are exempt from using turn signals in those specific moments. But that's as far as it goes.

"Otherwise, officers have to abide by all traffic laws," Budreau said.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.