Thursday marks the effective date of Washington’s revised law on using mobile phones and texting while driving. In this special edition of Traffic Q&A, we answer some frequently asked questions about the law.
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Isn’t it already a violation to text or have a cell phone on your ear while driving?
Yes. State laws banning texting while driving and requiring a hand-free device for talking on a mobile device while driving went into effect in 2008. But under the law, the violations were considered “secondary offenses,” citable only if an officer pulled you over for a another violation. Still, the Washington State Patrol has written about 3,000 tickets and given 5,900 warnings since the laws went into effect.
The 2010 Legislature made both texting and driving with a non hands-free cell phone primary offenses. That means police can pull you over if they see you texting or on the phone. The WSP has said troopers will immediately start enforcing the primary offense Thursday – it considers two years an ample grace period.
Drivers with instruction permits or intermediate licenses cannot use any type of wireless device while driving, except for emergencies.
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