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Washington's DUIE (Driving Under Influence of Electronics) law targets distracted drivers

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Drivers will no longer be able to hold a phone to text or make a call in Washington.

Starting July 23, drivers will be prohibited from using any electronic device - including cell phones, laptops and tablets - if they are driving or stopped at a red light or stop sign.

Washington State Trooper Stephen Robley said there are too many loopholes under the current state law regulating cell phone use. Under the law, he said drivers can only be cited if they have their cell phone up to their ear, or if a trooper catches a driver writing or reading a text.

"The cell phone - you could hold it, have it on speaker, hold it up to you. As long as you didn't hold it up to your ear, that's when it became illegal," Robley said.

Under the new legislation, drivers will have "minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device."

The first citation will cost an offender $136, but will double to $272 for a person's second ticket.

"If we find it serious enough, we're going to stop and write you a ticket. We can educate as much as we want but when education doesn't work we have to take enforcement and that affects people financially," he said.

Citations will also be reported to a drivers' insurance company.

Dylan Teal said he only uses his phone to listen to music, but said sometimes he will make a call.

"I will answer and be like 'hey, I'm driving stop. I'll call you back as soon as I can,'" Teal said.

Julie Hendrickson said she makes some calls while driving. She said she agrees with the new restrictions.

"I see a lot of people that use their phones and they're talking or texting and I think it's a very dangerous," Hendrickson said.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee vetoed a portion of the bill that put it in effect in 2019 and made the law go into place much sooner.


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