On the Road; Off the Phone

On Sunday Washington’s new distracted driving law went into effect. Drivers will now get a ticket for being on the phone or holding any electronic device behind the wheel.

State troopers say they will hand out warnings for six months but if a trooper decides actions of a driver warrant a ticket they will write one. Other law enforcement agencies say they will give drivers time to adjust but the law is on the books and they will be enforcing it.

The distracted driving law means drivers may not use hand-held cell phones while driving, stopped in traffic or at a stop light. This includes tablets, laptops, games or other hand-held electronic devices. Drivers cannot watch movies while driving. Hands-free use is limited to a single touch or swipe.

The suggestion is to plug in routes on a phone and starting music before driving.

The ticket, an E-DUI will cost $136 dollars on the first offense and at least $234 on the second. Violations will be available to insurance companies.

As part of the new distracted driving law, drivers who can also get a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving and drivers are pulled over for another traffic offense.

Transit and emergency vehicle drivers are exempt. Drivers of commercial vehicles must follow federal laws.

Two-way radio, citizen band radio or amateur radio equipment are not included in the law.