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Washington State Distracted Driving Legislation July 23rd, 2017

November 29, 2020 • by James Lambka

washington state distracted driving law

Distracted driving is a phenomenon that has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. This can be attributed mostly to smartphones, which essentially function as mini computers and entertainment consumption devices. Drivers may get distracted while driving because they’re texting, watching a video, video-calling or just checking their email on their phone.

2017 Law for Distracted Driving

Due to the dangerous consequences of distracted driving, law makers across the country are scrambling to enact legislation that combats this behavior. A distracted driving law which was due to go into action in 2019, was moved up and implemented from the 23rd of July, 2017.

This post is to help people get a grasp of what distracted driving is, and what constitutes as distracted driving in legal terms.

What Constitutes Distracted Driving?

To put it short, you’re not allowed to interact or use your phone in any fashion while driving. Whether you have an urgent email that’s waiting to be answered or your child wants to video call you, it does not matter. Interaction with a phone while driving is completely prohibited.

The intent of the law is to have you do whatever you want to do with your phone, before you actually start driving. However, you can keep your phone in a cradle / phone holder on your car’s dashboard and interact with it in a very limited capacity, for navigating or answering calls (handsfree). The best practice here to ensure your phone is not blocking your view of the road in any way.

Whatever you want to do with your phone (for navigation or answering a call), should not involve more than a tap or two. Anything beyond this will constitute distracted driving and can lead you to getting a ticket. These are primary offense tickets – you don’t have to be seen doing something else wrong to get pulled over. Even if you’re using your phone at a red light, or just looking at a picture, you’re subject to being issued a ticket.

Washington State Distracted Driving Fine

The fine for distracted driving tickets can increase depending on the number of times you get ticketed.

A distracted driving in Washington state is $136 for the first offense. The second ticket is $235.

In February 2020, House Bill 1256 was proposed which would double the base penalty for a first-time offense when a driver is caught using a phone in a school, playground or crosswalk speed zone, as long as ‘fines double’ sign is clearly posted in the area. If this goes into effect, first-time lawbreakers will be stuck with a $237 fine.

Whilst the current law doesn’t allow drivers to have a phone to the ear when driving, the new law coming into effect later this month will dramatically restrict the use of cell phones in cars. In today’s vlog, personal injury attorney James Lambka explains what this means for drivers.



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