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New Changes to No-Texting Law

Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee prohibits simply holding an electronic device including phones while driving, including while in traffic or waiting for a traffic light to change, that takes effect mid-July.

Texting or holding a phone to your ear is already against the law in Washington state, but this new law also prohibits you from sitting in traffic and using your device. Anything that requires you to hold an electronic device while behind the wheel will now be prohibited except “the minimal use of a finger” to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of a personal electronic device while driving will still be allowed.

Current Washington law only prohibits texting or holding a phone to the ear while driving.

Once the measure takes effect, the standard traffic fine of $136 would apply to a first offense but would increase to about $235 for a second offense. The first distracted-driving offense would also be reportable to insurance companies, which could raise rates like any other moving violation.

Another section of the new law also says a person who engages in “any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle” is subject to pay an additional fine of $100. It only applies if an officer catches a driver being distracted while committing a standard traffic offense, such as running a stop sign because their coffee spilled or a pet jumped in their lap. Exemptions under the law include using an electronic device to contact emergency services, or operating an amateur radio station or two-way or citizens band radio

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