In late July last year, Washington enacted their new distracted driving law, known as an E-DUI: driving under the influence of electronics. Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving has been illegal in the state for some time now, but you may not be as familiar with the new restrictions posed by the E-DUI law. Here's what you need to know:
What's NOT Allowed
Even at a red light, the following is not allowed in Washington:
- Hand-held use of a cell phone or electronic device while driving
- Typing messages or accessing information while driving
- Watching videos or using electronic device cameras while driving
Essentially, you can get pulled over for holding a cell phone or other electronic device in your hand while driving, no matter what you're doing. You also can't hold the phone to your ear, send or receive text messages, surf the web, check your email, or take a selfie…even at a stop. What if you're just using your phone as a GPS device? Is that allowed? Yes, you can use an electronic device for driving directions. No, you cannot hold that device in your hand while you are driving. So the answer is yes and no. You can also use a device with hands-free functions, to contact emergency services, or as a CB radio if you are a commercial or emergency services driver.
No More Warnings
While the law was implemented last year, there has been a six-month grace and education period in which Washington State Patrol (WSP) issued mostly warnings. On January 1st, that ended and they began giving out tickets to offenders. According to WSP spokesman James Prouty in Olympia, law enforcement statewide made 1,677 E-DUI stops in January, giving out 878 tickets.
A person who is pulled over for E-DUI is guilty of a traffic infraction and must pay a fine. The first time you are cited with this infraction the ticket fine is pretty hefty at $136, but if you are cited for the same infraction for the 2nd time (within a five year period), the ticket fine increases to a $234.
Fighting an E-DUI
While an E-DUI does not have the same harsh penalties as an actual DUI, such as jail time, fighting these new tickets is definitely worth it. The previous infraction of Cell Phone Use While Driving was considered a non-moving violation, unless you had a CDL or an intermediate license. As a result, drivers did not need to worry about a ticket affecting their insurance rates. If you commit an E-DUI infraction in Washington, the violation is available to insurance companies and your premiums could increase dramatically—by as much as 22%.
If you have been pulled over for driving under the influence of electronics, please contact our Washington State DUI attorney at the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC today. The legal system can be tricky, which is why you need the right guidance to understand the full implications of your situation and identify the steps to take next.
Call (888) 252-1961 or contact us online now for a free consultation.