Tougher Distracted Driving Law Begins in July

Who has not used a cell phone while driving? Beware! A tougher texting while driving law went into effect on July 23, 2017. Ten percent of Washingtonians use their cell phones while driving at any given time according to a recent study. Unfortunately, distracted driving kills 9 people every day, injures 390,000 people every year, and makes drivers 23 times more likely to crash. The Washington Legislature passed an Act called Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) to address concerns with distracted driving. Studies show the distraction from using your phone is equivalent to the impairment of a person who is two times over the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). A DUIE is a traffic infraction, not a criminal law violation like a DUI. However, distracted driving can turn into a criminal offense if the driver's inattention causes an accident or a fatality. A person can be charged with reckless driving,vehicular assault, and even vehicular homicide for carelessly driving a car that is involved in an accident. The new law permits hands-free calling but prohibits a driver from holding a cell phone while accessing, composing, or VIEWING data on their phone including messages or pictures.

Essentially, there is no hand-held cell phone use while driving.

* Even when stopped in traffic or at traffic lights

* Includes all electronic devices even tablets, laptops and video games

* No typing messages or accessing information

* No watching videos or using cameras

You CAN USE YOUR DEVICE if you are:

* Hands-free and can start use by a single touch or swipe of your finger

* Parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic

* Contacting emergency vehicles

A traffic citation cost $136, will be reported to the department of licensing, and can impact your insurance rates.

Categories: Criminal Defense
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