It's practically old news by now, but in case you've been living under a rock (or blinded by the smoky forest fire skies), there is a new Distracted Driving Law in Washington State that you need to be aware of.
Long story short, you can get a Driving Under the Influence of Electronics ticket for being on an electronic device and it will impact your insurance rates.
If the police see you on your phone, tablet, or iPod, or gaming device, then they can pull you over and ticket you with a very ominous sounding DUIE. You can’t so much as pick up your phone when you’re behind the wheel, even if you’re stopped at a red light and there is nary another vehicle around. The first ticket is $136, and for you serial texters and drivers, the second offense is $235.
“But wasn't it already against the law to be texting and driving?” you might be wondering.
Well, yes, but the difference is that before, it was considered a secondary offense, and you would have to be doing something else, like speeding, before they would pull you over. Now, it is a primary offense. Other things like eating a cheeseburger or applying makeup are also included in the new law, but are still considered secondary offenses.
That being said, I probably wouldn’t recommend your Selfies while driving snaps, or your videos with an emotional Drake song playing in the background as you speed along the viaduct at night with the skyline looking all pretty. I haven’t heard of police trying to go through Instagram or Facebook, but it seems like an easy way to get yourself in trouble, and an even easier way for them to ticket you!!
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and if you are dialing 911 or another emergency service, then that is alright. You are also allowed to make calls or get directions if it is a one-touch initiation, for example, tapping the phone to start GPS.
This law was initially supposed to go into effect in 2019, but our Governor decided to flex some of his Executive powers and fast track it into effect in a mere three weeks. Regardless of what aisle you fall on, this is probably going to help stabilize insurance rates. In case you didn’t know, your Auto rates will be increasing over the next three to five years because there are so many accidents, and likely because actuaries couldn’t have predicted the impact of distracted driving on accidents.