SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington's new distracted driving law went in to effect Sunday, outlawing pretty much anything involving the use of a phone that can't be accomplished with the swipe of a finger while driving.
It also includes a new $99 secondary offense ticket, which means if you are caught swerving in and out of lanes and the officer notices you are trying to drink your coffee or put on mascara, you could get a ticket for that.
That surprised a lot of people. Already, more than 16,000 people have signed a petition asking lawmakers to re-write Washington's new distracted driving law. But, did you know
you could have gotten a ticket for that even before this new law?
Officer Brad Moon with the Spokane Police Department said: “it's a new law, but its not. The old law was actually a higher penalty. If I saw you putting on makeup and you're weaving in and out of your lane and you almost hit someone, the only other option i had was a $550 negligent driving ticket instead of this $99 distracted driving ticket.”
He says he's been getting stopped left and right from concerned citizens who worry they can no longer drink their favorite latte on their way in to the office again.
“If you speed by me and I see you looking this way and you're not looking at the road, that's when the violation becomes a problem. If you speed by me and you're eating a burger and you're not moving in and out of your lane; you're not doing something else that could potentially cause a collision, I'm not even going to bring it up,” he explained.
One question KXLY has been receiving on Facebook: whether or not this new law applies to law enforcement, out doing their job.
“The way the state law is written, it does exempt law enforcement, fire, ambulance and tow-truck drivers,” said Officer Moon.
He adds that the Spokane Police Department policy says the only calls officers are allowed to make while driving are work-related.
Citizens are allowed to make emergency calls as well. If at all possible, get off at the next exit or turn on to a side street to keep yourself and other drivers safe.
As for the six month grace period you may have heard about in Spokane, Officer Moon says police are being encouraged by the governor to issue more verbal warnings while we all get used to this but they still can issue tickets.
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