The law is the law, even when a mailbox is involved

I am turning to Since You Asked to settle an ongoing argument I've been having with my girlfriend, who thinks she knows everything because she was once a newspaper reporter. It's about getting your mail out of the mailbox while staying in your car. My mailbox is across the street and down to the right from my house. In the afternoon, I'll pull out of my driveway, drive over to the left-hand side of the street, stop and get my mail through my open window. She says that's illegal. I say it can't be because there's no orange broken line denoting "lanes." Come on, SYA, tell me I'm right.

— Mark, Medford

Off the top of our heads here, Mark, we initially say no, you're wrong. And it's not just because former reporters are generally smarter than the average citizen about minutiae and uninteresting trivia that otherwise has no bearing on reality.

It's because you're a guy, Mark, and when it comes to stupid, pointless disputes between the sexes, guys are almost always wrong.

And to prove it, we at Since You Asked Central went straight to middle-management at the Medford Police Department.

We explained your pathetic argument to Lt. Mike Budreau, who didn't hesitate to answer.

"Technically, what you're doing is illegal," Budreau says.

If you live on a street with a broken yellow line down the middle and do the drive-by mail thing, you can get a citation for illegally crossing the center line on a two-way road, unless you're turning into a driveway or an alley, Budreau says.

If there is no yellow line on your street, it's a citation for failing to drive on the right side of the street. There are all sorts of exemptions on that one, covering everything from obstructions to turns.

We asked Budreau whether there was a specific exemption for people too lazy to get out of the car, walk across the street and get their mail like law-abiding citizens who don't get into stupid arguments with their girlfriends that have to be settled at SYA Central.

"No," Budreau says. "Not that."

Now you owe your girlfriend an apology and a gift worth $260, because that's the bail for either one of those Class B traffic violations.

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 We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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