Bear 45/70 wrote:
I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.
It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).
It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.
A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.
I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.
Unless he was responding to an emergency the use of lights is illegal. So if he did it just to avoid the traffic jam, he was a criminal.
Not quite Bear...
Unless there is another law I am not aware of (and couldn't find), the law specifies what things and officer can do
while responding to a call, and requires that he use his emergency equipment while doing it. Those things specifically are:
(a) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;
(b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
(c) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property;
(d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
(From RCW 46.61.035)
It places no requirements on when
he can use his emergency equipment. So while there is certainly an understandable disdain for an officer using equipement to get out of the jam, it isn't illegal for him to do so unless one of the specified things occur.
If a cop is in a traffic jam, hits the lights, others are required to move out of his way. He gets through the jam, but likely won't be exceeding the speed limit. Even if he goes down the shoulder, he is still going in the right direction.
Evern if he does break the rule, he would be subject to whatever traffic cite for the actual act. 46.61.035 doesn't specifiy a penalty for offense, so it would default to the actual act. All of those things are infractions and not criminal.
It might leave a sour taste in themouth, but as another poster mentioned, they are on the job and are supposed to be doing things, I would rather they get a pass than collect a check to sit in traffic.
I get at least 1-2 complaints each month about one of our units cruising the HOV lane. Most folks are shocked that there is a specific exception to the HOV rules for emergency vehicles and thatit doesn't
require they be responding to a call.
I think it is just sour grapes that cops "get" something they don't and the usual mentality of "hate the cops unless you need a cop".