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Grace period for distracted drivers in Washington is over

Washington state recently passed a law prohibiting any distracted driving as a result of using a smartphone. Last year, the state passed a bill which allowed police officers to issue a fine to anyone caught using a phone while driving even if the person was at a stop sign or red light. While the law technically went into effect last summer, there was a grace period so drivers could acclimate to the new law. On January 23rd, the law went into full effect. 

Distracted driving is a common reason for many car accidents on Washington roadways. The goal of the law is to limit that number of collisions, and it is important to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of it if you have not read it already. 

Details of the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act

Under the law, drivers receive a $136 fine the first time the police catch them driving while using a cell phone. For a second offense within five years, the fine increases to $234. There are specific ways drivers can still use a phone while driving. For example, a driver can use the GPS feature on a phone, and it is acceptable for the driver to mount the phone on a dashboard cradle. However, drivers cannot watch videos in this manner. It is also acceptable for drivers to contact emergency services on a phone while driving. 

Secondary offenses

Under the new law, it is also possible for drivers to receive fines for other infractions that constitute distracted driving. Having a pet on your lap, grooming and eating can all result in fines. Police officers may issue a $99 fine for a first offense in these cases. The reason why police do not tolerate any of these activities is that engaging in another behavior, even if your eyes are still on the road, can make you more susceptible to getting in a crash. 

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