Is OK for an officer to text and drive?

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Are law enforcement officers who text while driving exempt from the law, or are they abusing it?

We constantly hear the message that texting while driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.

A Bakersfield man, who asked not to be identified, said he was driving west on Merle Haggard Boulevard behind a Bakersfield police officer Friday afternoon when he noticed the officer looking down at his phone, possibly texting while driving.

The man said the officer's driving was unsafe and caused him to take a closer look. When he realized the officer was texting, the citizen took a photo of the officer.

"The law in general exempts police officers from the use of cellphones while operating a vehicle, as long as it's in the course of their employment," California Highway Patrol Officer James Nabors said.

However, the officer in the photo appears to be out of uniform, which begs the question about BPD policy. A watch commander said the photo will be looked into. But, not enough information was available over the weekend to respond.

Nabors said that all depends what the officer was doing. He said when CHP officers are seen in patrol cars in plain clothes, they are most likely going to or from training, and, in that case, cellphone use would not be practical.

Under state law, a driver may not text or use a hand-held cellphone at any time while operating a motor vehicle, even at a stop light.