Q: How many tickets have been written for Washington’s new distracted driving law?
A: As you all hopefully remember, a tough new distracted driving law went into effect in Washington last July that makes it illegal to hold your phone while driving, even when stopped at a red light. That means no texting, no Snapping, and no scrolling through Instagram or your Spotify playlist while behind the wheel.
But law enforcement officers were kind enough to give us a six-month “education” period to get used to the new law, during which time they were expected to stop drivers who were breaking the law and advise them on what they could and couldn’t do. They would issue warnings, but not necessarily write tickets.
That grace period is up.
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So what was the first month of enforcement like? Sgt. James Prouty of the Washington State Patrol told The Spokesman-Review that in January, troopers across Washington made 1,677 stops for what’s called the E-DUI law and wrote 878 tickets.
What about in our neck of the woods?
Prouty said in District 1, which serves Pierce and Thurston counties, 346 drivers were stopped for using a personal electronic device while driving, and 155 tickets were issued in January. A first offense can net you a $136 ticket, and violations will be reported to insurance companies, which could mean violators will see their rates climb.
In summary: Yes, that law is still a thing, and yes, law enforcement is out there writing tickets now for using a phone while driving.