New “Hands Free” Law to Take Effect July 23. Are You Ready?
A new law takes effect this month in the state of Washington. You will definitely not want to be caught “holding the phone!”
Directed Driving Bill
A new “Distracted Driving” bill was passed earlier this year and signed into law by Governor Inslee. He essentially vetoed the section that would have given drivers and other parties until 2019 to break their habits. Starting July 23, any driver caught holding or using a cell phone (or any personal electronic device) while upon the State’s highways runs a costly traffic infraction.
While the penalty for violating the new law is only an infraction, the fees attached can get pretty hefty. A second or subsequent distracted driving offense by the same driver will result in a double fine. An infraction can occur even while the vehicle and driver are sitting idle at a stop sign or traffic light. However, some exceptions do apply. For example, if a driver is attempting to contact emergency services or use one finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function on a phone properly docked in a holder.
Driving Dangerously Distracted
Driving “dangerously distracted” also becomes a traffic infraction with the new law. In essence, this means “engaging in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle.” Such activity is likely to mean driving while eating, grooming, reading, etc. Law enforcement has to pull you over for another traffic infraction in order for you to get a citation for this offense under the new law. It cannot be the primary reason for the stop.
Safety is everyone’s priority and should be even more of a priority while driving. Distracted driving is a huge concern in Washington State and is a leading cause of collisions and injuries. You must properly dock your phone in a cell phone holder and connect it to a Bluetooth device if you have to use it. If you don’t have a cell phone dock, today is probably the best time to invest in one. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the courthouse paying a huge fine.