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, forbidding texting or conserving a smartphone to your ear. Instead, the invoice takes effect this Sunday, July 23. 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 impact in 2019, but a part of the invoice changed into vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee upon signing.


The Washington State Patrol will just be handing out literature about the brand new regulation and reviews the Seattle Times during a six-month grace duration. 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.

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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 the 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 can 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, 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 is 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. He delivered that the shoulder of the expressway is a completely awful place to tug over. The engine can be on. However, you cannot be on top of things of the automobile at that point,” he explained. “Basically, you have to be parked.”

Not OK: something else to distract from the road

The law states that doing something else to distract you, even operating a motor car, could bring about an extra fine. However, that’s a secondary offense, meaning the driving force must be pulled over for something 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 something 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:

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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 probably be something he/she would install 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 Sevigny advised the station.

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