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New Distracted Driving Law Keeps WSP Troopers Busy

August 8th, 2017 - 12:00 pm

Olympia - It has been nearly two weeks since the new distracted driving law went into effect, and the Washington State Troopers are busy not only enforcing the law, but educating drivers as well.

The “Distracted While Under the Influence of Electronics” law took effect on July 23rd. During that week state-wide, troopers issued 27 citations, 4 written warnings, and 306 verbal warnings for drivers who violated the new statute.

The current law forbids handheld phone calls, composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph or data. Video watching is illegal, even in a dashboard or dash-mounted device. Also, drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

Here's what the law still allows you to do. The use of built-in electronics, including hands-free phones, satellite music and maps, are legal. Drivers can turn on a smartphone that’s mounted in a dashboard cradle, for navigation apps, a voice-activated call, or music streaming. Handheld phone calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal, as are urgent calls between transit employees and dispatchers.

The Washington State Patrol is currently running a six-month “grace” period. Basically meaning troopers are looking to educate more drivers on the new law, not ticket them. However, it’s important to remember just because we will be in the “grace” period until January, doesn’t mean drivers get a free pass.

If troopers observe distracted driving violations coupled with other dangerous driving behaviors, or if you’ve already received a warning about the new law, you run the risk of getting a ticket.

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