Washington’s new driving law forbids holding anything in your hands while driving.
Do I have your attention? Good! We want to make sure no one gets caught off guard with this new law.
While the law isn’t written to say exactly that, it is basically that strict. If you are a driver, you need to know about it. You’ll find a Q& A at the bottom of this article for you to reference for specific questions.
The new law states that you can’t have anything in your hands that could distract you. This includes cell phones, food, doing your make-up….anything. So, while you can go through a drive through and get yourself food, you can’t eat it or drink it without the risk of getting a fine – if you are pulled over for a primary offense such as speeding or being on your phone. Getting a coffee at Starbucks….don’t get caught drinking and driving with it.
NEW DUIE LAW
This new DUIE law is primarily geared toward having drivers cut back on any hand held devices being used while driving. DUIE stands for Driving Under Influence of Electronics.
This includes cell phones, GPS devices, Kindles, and IPods. As reported by the Yakima Herald’s article, “Hands Off: New Washington State Law on Distracted Driving Taking Effect,” by Miles Jay Oliver the new law forbids, “Simply holding a cellphone in your hand – even at a stoplight – is enough to get you pulled over and cited with a potential fine of $136. Get caught doing it again and you’ll pay $235.”
Washington State Trooper Stephen Robley says, “The cell phone – you could hold it, have it on speaker, hold it up to you. As long as you didn’t hold it up to your ear, that’s when it became illegal,” as reported by KATU 2 News author Lashay Wesley.
Nitty Gritty of the Law
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the law and what the RCW has to say. The new section added to chapter 46.61 RCW states:
Now how about that burger or coffee?
Watch this video from KREM 2 with Washington State Patrol Officer Jeff as he explains about eating or drinking while driving: What the new distracted driving law actually enforces.
What Drivers Can and Cannot Do
Q. What is banned?
A. Texting is already illegal, as is holding a cellphone at the ear. Drivers constantly flout those rules, or evade them by holding a phone between the legs, or just below the chin.
Drivers also cannot use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.
A. Drivers may still use a smartphone mounted in a dashboard cradle, for instance to use a navigation app, but not to watch video. The new law permits “minimal use of a finger” to activate an app or device. (So maybe that Shazam app is still legal?)
Built-in electronic systems, such as hands-free calling and maps, remain legal.
Calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal, as are urgent calls between transit employees and dispatchers.
Amateur radio equipment and citizens-band radio, remain legal.
Handheld devices may be used if the driver has pulled off the roadway or traffic lanes, where the vehicle “can safely remain stationary.”
Q. What are the penalties?
A. The standard traffic fine of $136 would nearly double to $235 on the second distracted-driving citation.
Q. Is DUIE a primary offense?
A. Yes. A police officer can pull someone over just for using a handheld device.
Q. What about other kinds of distraction?
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