New Washington state distracted driving law in effect - KPTV - FOX 12

New Washington state distracted driving law in effect

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FOX 12 went on a ride along with Trooper Will Finn with the Washington State Patrol Sunday to see how they are enforcing the new law. (KPTV) FOX 12 went on a ride along with Trooper Will Finn with the Washington State Patrol Sunday to see how they are enforcing the new law. (KPTV)
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

Beginning Sunday, holding your phone while driving is illegal in Washington. If pulled over by a police officer, you could face a $136 ticket. 

“We already know you can't use your phone while driving down the road. We know that you're not supposed to text. How about we go this far? You cannot touch your electronic device at all,” explains Will Finn, a trooper with Washington State Patrol.

Finn said they are trying to get to “Target Zero,” a new campaign started by Washington’s Traffic Safety Commission. He said they are aiming for zero deaths on the road by 2030.

Though the law went into effect Sunday, Finn says he and other law enforcement are trying to help drivers understand the law first.

“Maybe you didn't catch the news. Maybe you didn't see the signs on the roadway. Maybe you didn't see the things online,” he said.

The law says if you need to answer your phone while driving, you have to complete a one-touch answer.

“And it has to be ran through a Bluetooth device or through the speakers of the vehicle that you're operating,” said Finn.

He says there’s an enhancement of the law that’s a secondary offense. Now, you also can’t eat or drink while driving in Washington for extended periods of time.

“If I see you speeding and as you speed by me, I see that you're eating a big old cheeseburger, that's a secondary. So, I stop you for the speeding and when I get up to the window, I talk to you about safely operating a motor vehicle,” said Finn.

And that’s just what he did during a ride along with FOX 12 – except the driver was eating ice cream.

Finn says he pulled over one man for distracted driving and inconsistent speeds. The law says distractions, like eating, can result in a fine if you’re pulled over for another traffic offense.

“I’m just shocked. Didn't know,” said Dan Thomas, who was pulled over by Finn.

Finn says they’ll be educating drivers for the next several months and tickets are up to the officer’s discretion.

The DUI-E will be a primary infraction. You’ll not only be paying the price for a damaged driving record, but for higher insurance rates, too.

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