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Washington State’s New Cell Phone Law and What It Means For You

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Cell phone use while driving has hardly ever turned up good results when paired together and the data keeps emphasizing this. So it comes as no surprise that Washington state will continue to crackdown on distracted drivers. Governor Jay Inslee has just signed the new distracted driving law but changed the start date from 2019 to July 23, 2017. With the new law comes some major changes.

Here’s a brief rundown what you need to know.

What Devices Does This Apply To?

Mobile devices doesn’t just mean cell phones, though they are included. The new law also applies to laptops, gaming systems, and any other type of two-way messaging devices.

What Can I Be Ticketed For?

While holding the device in either hand you cannot:  compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data or watch a video.

What Can I Do With My Phone?

The law states that you can have “minimal use of the finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device.” If you do need to use your phone for GPS or any other navigation, you can use a handsfree device like a phone cradle.

What If I Am Stopped At A Red Light Or Stop Sign?

Even if you’re at a stop sign or a light, it’s still a violation to use a mobile device while behind the wheel. If you want to avoid a ticket and need to use your phone for any reason, you must pull off to the side of the road.

Will This Make My Insurance Rates To Up?

Most likely, yes. The prior law didn’t allow texting and cell phone tickets to go on your driving record, but now they will. The insurance companies will use any opportunity to raise rates so expect them to jump on this.

What’s The Fine For Breaking The Law?

For a first offense it will be $136 and subsequent offenses are $235. Those fees can add up quick, so you’ll have plenty of incentive to obey the law.

This new law may take adjustments for some drivers, but most of the requirements of the law should be required. Should you find yourself with a ticket for cell phone use that you don’t think is warranted, Elsner Law Firm can help. Give us a call today, walk us through your situation, and we’ll work with you to find out if there’s a case to be made.

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