Washington’s new distracted riding laws take impact Sunday


Washington State’s new distracted using regulation kicks in this weekend—and with it greater regulations on what you can do while at the back of the wheel.

The law, which forbids protecting an electronic tool even as riding, is a far better model of the previous regulation, which simply forbade texting or conserving a smartphone to your ear. Violations will bring about a $136 excellent for the primary offense, or $234 in keeping with additional citation inside the next five years.

It was set to take impact in 2019, but that a part of the invoice changed into vetoed by way of Governor Jay Inslee upon signing. Instead, the invoice takes effect this Sunday, July 23.


During a six-month grace duration, the Washington State Patrol will just be handing out literature approximately the brand new regulation, reviews the Seattle Times. But the King County Sheriff’s office will start handing out the one’s citations proper away.


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Here’s what drivers can and can’t do whilst operating a motor vehicle.

Not OK: retaining your electronic device.
The bottom line of the new regulation: You can’t operate a tool in a manner that requires retaining it. This goes for telephones, laptops, and tablets.

Washington State DOT ✔ @wsdot
Remember the one’s days when barely every person had a cellphone of their car?! Channel the beyond, starting Sunday. New #distracteddriving law = 📵in✋.
8:25 AM – 18 Jul 2017
Forty-one forty-one Retweets 40 40 likes
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OK: Touching your electronic device—briefly.
Need to hit “ignore” on a smartphone call so your GPS pops returned up? That’s first-class. Just don’t pick up and solve the thing. The law permits for “minimum use of a finger.”

Not OK: calling or texting in any manner that requires protecting your telephone.
This became already illegal and it’s far nonetheless unlawful.

The Seattle Times talked about that humans regularly positioned their telephones between their legs to avoid this regulation. We asked Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Rick Johnson about this.

“Black and white letter of the law could allow this,” he instructed Curbed Seattle over email. “Technically you would not be maintaining the cellphone or manipulating it. This is not recommended as I would suppose it is able to be greater of a distraction.”

He said if you do ought to get right to entry to your smartphone for whatever cause, it’ll just be harder on you: “Even with the single contact regulation in place as you’ll appearance down a good way to set off and in flip taking your eyes off of the road.”

OK: Making telephone calls the usage of a palms-unfastened tool.
This turned into quality before and it’s fine now.

Not OK: taking photos at the same time as driving.
If for some motive you were trying to ship Snapchats from the driving force’s seat before, simply realize you could get pulled over for it now. Car selfies are confined to earlier than you hit the street or for the duration of a pit prevent. Like with everything else that requires conserving a tool, it doesn’t rely upon whether or not the automobile’s at a mild or now not.


You can’t do any of this stuff at a pink light.

The rule approximately now not holding and manipulating your smartphone—it applies whilst you’re stopped at a purple light.

OK: preserving your smartphone in case you’re pulled over.
We requested Johnson what might represent a time that’s ok to use your cell phone. Does your engine need to be off?

“Texting in a vehicle is legal when you have adequately pulled off the street. The engine can be on, however you simply cannot be on top of things of the automobile at that point,” he explained. “Basically, you have to be parked.”

He delivered that the shoulder of the expressway is a completely awful place to tug over.

Not OK: some thing else to distract from the road
The law lays out that doing something else to distract you even as operating a motor car could bring about an extra fine—however that’s a secondary offense, meaning the driving force has to be pulled over for some thing else first.

It’s difficult, due to the fact whether or not or now not you’re distracted by the object would seem up to the officer’s discretion.

Johnson appeared to suggest that those cases could be uncommon—simplest in the case of a witness file or an admission from the driver.

“At times, we will articulate a distraction as a contributing element if there are witnesses that observe a driver doing some thing that might cause a distraction previous to a collision,” he informed us. Sometimes, however not regularly, the driving force volunteers that they had been distracted: “Only in a few collisions that I have investigated in 26 years has a driving force ‘self-reported’ being distracted.”

Regardless, capacity secondary distractions include:

The law isn’t designed to prevent consuming at the pass, invoice sponsor (and modern-day Seattle mayoral candidate) Jessyn Farrell advised US News and World Report. But if drivers are stuck breaking the regulation even as clearly distracted by using other sports—say, preserving a burrito contained—it can result in a nice.

One Washington State Patrol PIO tweeted a stock image of someone with a drink in one hand and a sandwich inside the different at the back of the wheel to illustrate:


Trooper Brian Moore @wspd6pio
Starting July 23rd this may be ILLEGAL. The regulation is ready saving lives! Don’t be a distracted motive force. It’s no longer really worth a life! @targetzero
6: sixty sixfifty-eight AM – 19 Jul 2017
Ssixty-sixRetweets 82 eighty two likes
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We requested Johnson approximately what happens if, say, a driver has a box of Mexi-Fries at the passenger seat after they’re pulled over for blowing a pink mild.

“The infraction might be issued for running the crimson mild,” he said. “If you instructed the officer that the Mexi-Fries are in charge then that might most probable be some thing he/she would installed their file.”

Another PIO seemed to have a different take even as speaking to KING 5: “If you do ought to assume to devour, you have to pull over and then keep riding,” said Trooper Jeff Sevigney advised the station.


The rule doesn’t ban smoking to your automobile, either, but like with ingesting, if you get pulled over for some thing like an dangerous lane exchange or blowing a forestall signal, you can get hit with a further first-class.

Again, it’s a secondary offense—no one is supposed to get pulled over for combing hair alone.

Not OK: watching motion pictures.
No, this wasn’t technically illegal earlier than. Drivers can’t watch films at all even as running a motor vehicle—even from a sprint-installed cellphone, even at a red mild.

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