Police cite drivers on cell phones

After giving plenty of warnings in January, Ashland police began issuing citations this month to drivers violating Oregon's ban on using cell phones while driving.

The Ashland Police Department has issued four citations to drivers talking or texting on their cell phones without using a hands-free device, according to police records.

"I'm sure officers are giving warnings and trying to educate people," said Lt. Corey Falls of the Ashland Police Department.

Through Feb. 28, Ashland police are issuing "fix-it" tickets, he said.

The "fix-it" citations allow people to avoid a $142 fine by showing the Ashland Municipal Court that they have purchased a hands-free device or have installed one in their vehicle.

"The municipal court is electing to treat the cell phone violations issued between the first and the end of February as correctable situations," Falls said.

The ban, which took effect on Jan. 1, may help make Ashland's streets safer, police said.

"We do have a lot of pedestrian foot traffic and bicyclists in Ashland and anything that we can do to keep from dividing a driver's attention helps," Falls said.

There is an exemption in the law for people who take work calls while driving, he said. Determining what qualifies as a work call, is up to the officer's discretion, Falls said.

"Certainly it's going to give a police officer a reason to stop them, because the officer's not going to know it's a work call," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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