What drivers can and cannot do under Washington state’s new distracted-driving law

In 2 months Washington drivers will need to adapt to the new distracted-driving law.  This new law will go into effect in late July and for those unfamiliar here are some FAQ's in regards to the changes.

Q. When does the law take effect?

A. Approximately July 23, which is 90 days after the Legislature’s regular session adjourned, the governor’s staff say.

Q. What will be banned?

A. Texting is already illegal, as is holding a cellphone at the ear. Drivers constantly flout those rules, or evade them by holding a phone between the legs, or just below the chin.

The new bill forbids handheld uses, including composing or reading any kind of message, picture or data. Photography while driving is illegal.

Drivers also cannot use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

Q. What is still legal?

A. Drivers may still use a smartphone mounted in a dashboard cradle, for instance to use a navigation app, but not to watch video. The new law permits “minimal use of a finger” to activate an app or device.

Built-in electronic systems, such as hands-free calling and maps, remain legal.

Calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal, as are urgent calls between transit employees and dispatchers.

Amateur radio equipment and citizens-band radio, remain legal.

Handheld devices may be used if the driver has pulled off the roadway or traffic lanes, where the vehicle “can safely remain stationary.”

Q. What are the penalties?

A. The standard traffic fine of $136 would nearly double to $235 on the second distracted-driving citation.

Q. Is DUIE a primary offense?

A. Yes. A police officer can pull someone over just for using a handheld device.

Q. Will a ticket raise my insurance rates?

A. Probably.

The cost of a citation on personal insurance bills will depend on what the data show, about a correlation between someone’s violations and crash history, said Nicole Ganley, public-affairs director for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Distracted-driving citations will be reported on a motorist’s record for use by the insurance industry, which testified in favor of the law.

“It’s modernizing the driving code, so that all the behaviors are included,” she said. “This new law will serve as a deterrent and draws a line in the sand that this behavior is not safe for anyone.”

Source: Seattle Times

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