No hand-held cell phone use while driving.
UPDATE–On Friday, July 28, the Washington State Patrol held a media briefing to clarify the “driving dangerously distracted” portion of the new E-DUI law. We didn’t take away a lot from that briefing except that WSP will consider the “totality of the circumstances” when deciding which citations, if any, will be issued following an infraction. As an example, eating a cheeseburger or drinking coffee while driving isn’t in and of itself an offense UNLESS it causes you to drive unsafely, such as swerving, incorrectly changing lanes, etc.
Starting Sunday, July 23, 2017, the new Distracted Driving Law goes into effect. This means no hand-held cell phone use while you’re driving. A standard traffic fine for an Electronics DUI (E-DUI) for a first offense is $136. A second offense within five years is $234, and tickets will be reported to car insurance companies. No hand-held cell phone use:
- Even when stopped in traffic or at a light
- Includes all electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and video games
- No typing messages or accessing information
- No watching videos or using cameras
“Distracted Driving is a significant factor in serious injury and fatality collisions. Hopefully, the new law will change this dangerous driver behavior and help us reach the goal of Target Zero,” said John Pagel, Kent Police Department Community Education Coordinator and the Target Zero Manager for Region 8, which includes South King County.
There are exceptions. You CAN use your device IF you are:
- Hands-free and can start use by a single touch or swipe of your finger
- Parked or out of the flow of traffic
- Contacting emergency services
A fine of $99 applies for other types of distracted driving like putting on your lipstick, combing your hair, smoking or eating, but only if you are pulled over for another offense.
Transit and emergency vehicle drivers are exempt. Drivers of commercial vehicles must follow federal laws. Two-way radio, CB radios and amateur radio equipment are not included in the law.
Why is the law being imposed? Check out these statistics from Target Zero:
- Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington.
- 71 percent of distracted drivers engage in the most dangerous distraction – cell phone use – behind the wheel
- 1 out of 4 crashes involves cell phone use just prior to the crash
[Source: Target Zero]