When the six-month grace period for Washington's new E-DUI came to an end, Washington State Patrol pulled over more than 1600 people. After six months of warnings and public notices about the law, police still found drivers holding their cell phones or other devices when they should have been driving. The new E-DUI law, as mentioned in an earlier blog on DUI punishments, restricts the use of cell phones, tablets, or other devices while driving. People caught are fined $136. Any subsequent infractions within five years are issued a fine of $234.
Washington's Two-Part Distracted Driver Law
The E-DUI restriction is one part of a two-phow art law. Drivers are not permitted to hold their phones at all. They can use their phones to contact emergency services or use their phone only when parked. A driver may not pick up a phone at red lights, stop signs, or stopped in traffic. Officials warn that drivers should not pull over on the freeways to use their phones as it causes safety concerns.
The second part of the two-part law restricts those types of activities that distract drivers from paying attention to the road, like eating, grooming, and drinking. These activities are secondary offenses, so an officer must identify another infraction before pulling someone over for these secondary offenses. Fines for these citations are $99.
Is There a Way to Use a Cell Phone Lawfully?
Drivers who still wish to use their cell phone while driving may continue to do so with the help of accessories. A driver may use a car cradle or a mount to speak on the cell phone. The law indicates the minimal use of a finger is permitted to start up or use a device. If the driver wishes to use the mounted device, he or she may NOT type a number on the mounted device while on the road. Drivers should use voice-activated functions or swipe a screen to see what they need. Anything more than a single touch will result in a citation. The good news for drivers is that police must witness the driver holding the phone in his or her hands before they initiate pulling over the vehicle.
Distracted Driver Law Designed to Make Roads Safer
Like many other states, Washington enacted its Distracted Driver Law to make roads safer just as DUI laws are in place to reduce alcohol-related deaths on roads. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance, even drivers who drink and get behind the wheel. If you have been cited for drunk driving, you need help with your defense. An experienced attorney can help preserve your rights and assure you get the very best criminal defense.
Attorney Aaron Wolff began practicing law as a criminal prosecutor nearly 20 years ago. In 2002, he changed his practice's focus to helping people who have been charged with alcohol-related crimes. Attorney Wolff knows everyone deserves a skilled criminal defense. Contact Aaron Wolff today to schedule your initial consultation.