Monday, June 7, 2010

Washington's "New" Cell Phone Law

There is a new web page on why you should Hang Up & Drive, which explains the new cell phone law.

We are referring to it as the "new" law just to avoid confusion. We all know it's been around for a few years, and is just now becoming truly enforceable, although there are new elements with the teen restrictions.

What officers will cite for after June 10th when the primary texting and cell phone law goes into effect:
RCW 46.61.667 is the law concerning talking on a cell phone and driving which is $124 fine.
RCW 46.61.668 is the law concerning texting while driving which is $124 fine.
RCW 46.20.055 is the law concerning violations of an instruction permit which is a $124 fine.
RCW 46.20.075 is the law concerning violations of an IDL which is a $124 fine.

The HB6345 makes it a primary offense for a person with an instruction permit or Intermediate Drivers License to be talking on a cell phone. The rest of the statutes remain the same, which are secondary violations.

Officers will be stopping drivers for talking or texting under those laws no matter what their ages are. Then once stopped and they hand over an instruction permit or IDL, they could be cited in addition to the cell/text law for violating their instruction permit or IDL.

For more information contact the Washington Traffic Safety Commission or the Washington State Patrol.

1 comment:

  1. Here is todays Press Release

    June 7, 2010 - News Release
    Media Contact: Tony Sermonti, Dept. of Licensing (360) 902-3609 Bob Calkins, State Patrol (360) 596-4013 Angie Ward, WTSC, (360) 725-9888


    On Thursday, police agencies around the state will begin enforcing Washington's newly-revised law restricting the use of wireless devices by drivers.

    The revised law makes texting or improper cell phone use primary offenses, meaning that drivers can be pulled over for those violations alone. It also prohibits the use of electronic devices by younger drivers with an Intermediate Driver's License or Learner's Permit, with or without a hands-free device.

    How will WSP enforce the changes?

    "If you're holding the phone to your ear, you're likely to be stopped,"
    said Captain Chris Gundermann of the state patrol's field operations bureau. "We will be flexible with virtually any type of headset or speakerphone device, but holding the phone itself to your ear will get our attention."

    Since 2008 the law has prohibited drivers from texting while driving, and required those talking on cell phones to use hands free devices.
    However, the earlier version of the law was "secondary" meaning that officers had to see a different violation in order to make the traffic stop.

    Gundermann noted that those with hearing aids are exempt, as are those reporting an emergency to 9-1-1. Troopers will inquire about exemptions once the person has been pulled over."

    "No ticket is automatic. If the person has a hearing aid or is calling 9-1-1, we'll get them quickly on their way," he said

    Texting can be harder for troopers to spot, because the unit is normally held lower than when talking on a cell phone. Gundermann says studies show that those reading or sending a text message take their eyes off the road for up to five seconds.

    "We'll be looking for people who clearly aren't watching the road. We've had a couple years to practice spotting this behavior and can usually tell when someone is texting. Sooner or later the phone comes up high enough that we can see it and make the stop."

    At the Department of Licensing, Director Liz Luce is urging parents to help with enforcement of the complete ban on electronic devices for those with intermediate licenses.

    "Responsibility starts at home, so I ask parents to have a conversation with their teen drivers, because the consequences of distracted driving can be deadly," Luce said.

    Statistics have long shown that younger drivers make up a disproportionate number of those injured or killed on the highway.

    "A cell phone in the car is one of the most dangerous things a teen driver can have. Come June 10, teen drivers with intermediate licenses aren't permitted to use their cell phones at all, with or without a hands-free device, unless they're reporting an emergency."

    Multiple traffic violations on an intermediate driver license can lead to suspension and even an extension of the intermediate license restrictions until the driver turns 21.

    Safety experts recommend people not talk on the phone at all while driving, pointing out that the conversation itself is a distraction.

    "Ideally, we would like to see all drivers save their phone conversations for later and concentrate on the road. Study after study has demonstrated that talking on the phone while driving seriously impairs your awareness and ability to react," said Lowell Porter, executive director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

    The Commission also has announced its new slogan to help people stay
    Text, Talk, Ticket.


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