Hang up, drivers. Gov. Chris Gregoire has just signed a law that puts new teeth into the ban on phone use while driving.
Gregoire spoke strongly in favor of the bill and said she disagreed with claims made by the opponents who contacted her asking for a veto:
“Those that have said to me, well it’s no different than having a cup of coffee, the coffee doesn’t talk back to me. The coffee doesn’t have anything to say to me. A cell phone does. What if I’m a young person and my boyfriend or girlfriend’s breaking up with me? Am I really concentrating on what I’m doing?”
The bill, pushed by Sen. Tracey Eide, will allow police to pull drivers over for talking on their phones or sending text messages. You can avoid the $124 ticket by using a hands-free device, which remains legal unless you’re under 18.
Eide won support from cellular companies by allowing hands-free talking. She said today she feels her public-safety goals have been accomplished and she doesn’t foresee trying to toughen it further by banning all cell-phone conversations.