State Driving Law Legislation

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Washington – Senate Bill 6345 Goes to Governor – Cell Phone Law Revisited

By admin • Mar 14th, 2010 • Category: Cell Phone Texting, Lead Story, WA

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The State of Washington is in the process of  “upgrading” the cell phone and text messaging law.

The original text messaging bill (EHB 1214) passed in 2007 went into effect on January 1st, 2008.

The other bill was cell phone  related (ESSB 5037) and prohibited cell phone use while driving without the use of a hands free device.

These bills were both passed into law as Secondary Offenses which meant that the only way you would be ticketed for a violation was to be caught committing a primary driving offense such as running a stop-sign or speeding.

Senate Bill 6345 removes the Secondary Offense and makes both Text Messaging and Cell Phone use while driving a Primary Offense.

This means if you are seen by an officer of the law driving down the road and you are talking with your cell phone to your ear or text messaging, you can be ticketed for that offense alone.

That doesn’t mean you can’t dial a phone since the law differentiates  between dialing to make a phone call and text messaging.

This part of the law typically leads people to ask HUH?

How does an officer know if the person is dialing a number or text messaging?

Good question, and we would think that since the same question has come up time and again in other states that somehow the state law makers would have had this tiny flaw in the plan sorted out by now.

But enough with nit-picking the details; the fine for an offense is $124 and the ticket will not go on the driving record of the offender.

Instruction Permit and Intermediate License Holders

Another change to Washington Cell Phone / Text Messaging law is that drivers under the age of 18 (instruction permit and intermediate license holders) will be prohibited from using a cell phone except in emergency situations.

Relevant Details of the Bill – (Paraphrased and Incomplete)

Summary of Changes to Cell Phone / Text Messaging Law – Senate Bill 6345

All Drivers:

A person operating a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear is guilty of a traffic infraction.

Exceptions:

An authorized emergency vehicle, or a tow truck responding to a disabled vehicle;

A moving motor vehicle using a wireless communications device in hands-free mode;

A moving motor vehicle using a hand-held wireless communications device to:

Report illegal activity;

Summon medical or other emergency help;

Prevent injury to a person or property; or

Relay information that is time sensitive between a transit or for-hire operator and that operator’s dispatcher, in which the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle.

Instruction Permit Holder:

Effect of instruction permit. A person holding a driver’s instruction permit may drive a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, upon the public highways if:

The person has immediate possession of the permit and;

The person is not using a wireless communications device, unless the person is using the device to report illegal activity, summon medical or other emergency help, or prevent injury to a person or property

Intermediate License Holder:

The holder of an intermediate license may not operate a moving motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device unless the  holder is using the device to report illegal activity, summon medical or other emergency help, or prevent injury to a person or property.

Removed From Original Law

Enforcement of this section by law enforcement officers may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of this title or an equivalent local ordinance or some other offense.

Senate Bill 6345 has now been approved by the House and has been sent to the Governor to be signed.

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