Washington drivers caught using phones while driving will now receive $136 ticket
OLYMPIA — This week marked six months since Governor Inslee signed the state’s new distracted driving law. Washington State Patrol (WSP) has ended the grace period for Washington drivers caught using electronic devices while driving.
State Patrol and law enforcement officers across the state are now all issuing tickets to drivers who violate Washington’s distracted driving law — Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) Act.
Under the E-DUI law, drivers may not use hand-held cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. This includes tablets, laptops, games, or any hand-held electronic devices. The law restricts hands-free use to a single touch.
Since the law took effect July 23, 2017, State Patrol officers have issued 6,475 distracted driving warnings statewide.
“When you drive distracted, you are putting both yourself and other drivers in danger,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “By eliminating distractions while driving, we will move closer to reaching the statewide Target Zero goal of no fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.”
Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington. And one out of four crashes involves cell phone use just prior to the crash.
The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136. If the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions is now available to insurance companies.
“All of the distracted driving crashes and fatalities we are seeing are completely preventable,” said Darrin Grondel, director, Washington Traffic Safety Commission. “Washington’s law is a bold step toward changing the culture of phone use in the car and we believe it will have a profound impact on making our roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.”
Other types of dangerous distractions are also covered by the law. If, and only if, a driver commits another traffic violation (like running a red light), and that person was distracted by another activity besides an electronic device (for example, putting on makeup, shaving or reading), that driver can receive a $99 ticket for driving while ‘dangerously distracted.’
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is the state’s designated highway safety office. For more information on the Target Zero Plan, visit www.targetzero.com.