Thursday, June 15, 2017

State's New Distracted Driving Law Goes Into Effect on July 23

The Legislature passed the new distracted driving law this session, with a provision that delayed enforcement until January 1, 2019.  Governor Inslee vetoed the delayed enforcement so it now will be enforced starting next month on July 23. 

The new law aims to eliminate “driving under the influence of electronics” as well as other distractions. The new law prohibits not just using a cell phone handset and texting (already illegal) but expands the definition to include shooting or watching video and taking photos with a cell phone. Expect a $136 fine if ticketed for these activities.  The fine doubles for second and later offenses. The law also prohibits other driving distractions, such as eating, putting on make-up and “any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle” that creates a danger.  This is considered a secondary offense – in other words the police will not stop a motorist solely for that reason.  Expect a fine of about $100 for this.  The law contains exceptions for contacting emergency services, hands-free phones in dashboard cradles, auto Bluetooth operations, and CB radios, among others.