E-DUI Tickets Start July 23 in Washington State

Tickets for driving while using hand-held electronics will go on your record and be reported to your insurance company, the state warns, and an E-DUI ticket will cost $136 for the first violation and $234 for the second (within five years).

Authorities in Washington state want residents and visitors to be aware that, starting July 23, it will be against the law for Washington drivers to use hand-held electronics while they are driving. That includes all electronic devices—cell phones, tablets, laptops, and video games. Tickets for driving while using hand-held electronics will go on your record and be reported to your insurance company, the state warns, and an E-DUI ticket will cost $136 for the first violation and $234 for the second (within five years).

This new law was enacted by the state legislature this year.

The Washington state Traffic Safety Commission reports fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington and that one-quarter of all crashes involved a cell phone being used just prior to the crash; the commission's most recent collision report, from 2014, shows that distracted drivers crash every 12 minutes and distraction was a factor in 40 percent of all collisions and in 123 fatal collisions.

The law says hand-held cell phones may not be used even when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. It bars:

  • Typing messages or accessing information
  • Watching videos or using cameras

You can use your devices if you are:

  • Hands-free (such as using Bluetooth) and can start use by a single touch or swipe without holding the phone
  • Parked or out of the flow of traffic
  • Starting your GPS or music before you drive
  • Contacting emergency services

Transit and emergency vehicle drivers are exempt, while drivers of commercial vehicles must follow federal laws. Two-way radio, citizens band radio, or amateur radio equipment are not included in the law.

The state points out that drivers also can get a $99 ticket for other types of distractions, such as grooming, smoking, eating, or reading, if the activity interferes with safe driving and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

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