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Ask a Cop

Editor's note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Send questions to Reporter Cliff Newell at cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com or call him at 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

Ask a Cop: A speedy turnoff OK?

If a patrol car pulls in behind you (without its emergency lights on) are you allowed to briefly exceed the speed limit in order to get into the right lane to allow the officer to pass?Treat

That’s a great question and the short answer is: no. There is no law or rule in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) that allows a driver to accelerate in order to pass a vehicle or move out of its way — even if that vehicle is a police car. Speeding up and switching lanes if a patrol car pulls in behind you will do nothing but pique the officer’s curiosity. I know many people speed up to pass a slower vehicle, but doing so is in violation of ORS 811.111, Violation of Speed Limit. Simply put, you cannot drive faster than the posted speed limit to pass another vehicle, especially if the vehicle you are trying to pass is traveling at the posted speed limit. 

On a side note, don’t worry about the police car behind you.  If the officer needs you to move over the officer will activate the emergency lights to have you pull to the right so he or she can get by.  Police work is unpredictable. One moment we may be doing proactive patrol, going with the flow of traffic, and the next we may be headed in the opposite direction responding to a call for service.  Sometimes we are driving with the lights and siren on responding to a call and the call gets canceled — that is when you see us abruptly turn off our lights and siren and slow back down to the posted speed limit.

The best thing a driver can do with a patrol car behind them is to just continue driving in a normal manner and move over if and when it is appropriate.  Stay safe.

— Lt. Doug Treat, Lake Oswego Police Department

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