What to expect from law enforcement about new distracted driving laws

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 24, 2017

Under the new distracted driving law, drivers can not have a phone in their hand behind the wheel.

Under the language of the measure, law enforcement has the power to legally stop someone if an officer observes a driver using a phone or other device. That means no reading incoming text messages while driving, or watching a quick video while stuck in traffic or sitting at a red light.

Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington, and 71 percent of distracted drivers engage in the most unsafe distraction, cell phone use behind the wheel. It's part of their "Safely Home" campaign to curb distracted driving, highlighting the dangers of using an electronic device while driving.

The first primary E-DUI offense will cost $136, a second E-DUI within five years is $234 and the dangerously distracted (secondary offenses such as eating, smoking and other distractions) will cost $99. The first distracted driving offense would also be reportable to insurance companies, which could raise rates like any other moving violation. Emergency and transit vehicles can use mobile devices while on duty.

While the Washington distracted driver law takes effect today, the state's highway patrol isn't likely to issue tickets just yet.

The rationale behind the new law is simple according to officials at Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington's roadways to zero by the year 2030. The commission says that 71 percent of distracted drivers are using their phones. Under the new law, offenders would be sent to prison for 13 to 17 months, rather than serve shorter sentences in county jails. Currently, victims of sexual assault can only be granted a protection order for up to two years, which means they must reappear in court to repetition for a new order. The new statute ranks the crime at a higher seriousness level of theft.

The law goes in to affect at different times throughout the state. Priority for the programs would be given to inmates within five years of release.

-It will be illegal for a person to leave a dog tethered for a reckless period of time without providing him or her with adequate access to food, water and shelter. They may not warrant or ticket, but they might be creating an unsafe situation.

Lawmakers concluded a marathon triple-overtime legislative session Thursday night, setting a record with 193 consecutive days in session in a year. Negotiations on that bill collapsed, and the Legislature adjourned without taking up either bill, though lawmakers say they will continue negotiations in hopes of being able to return to the Capitol for a one-day session for votes at a later date.

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