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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

New Tough Cellphone Law Begins June 10th

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A tough new cellphone law has been signed into law by Gov. Gregoire and takes effect June 10, 2010.  The Washington legislature passed a measure that makes using a cellphone without a hands free device and texting while driving a primary offense punishable by a $124 fine.  With this new law we can hopefully start to see a reduction in the number of Washington car accidents linked to cellphone use.

What does making it a primary offense mean to you?  It means the police can pull you over based on that offense alone.  Previously the cellphone hands free law has been a secondary offense meaning the police had to have another reason for pulling you over, like speeding, before they could ticket on the cell phone use.  Hopefully, not anymore. Now all police will need to see is you with a phone in your hand and bingo, ticket time.  The phone doesn't even need to be to your ear, just in your hand.  

There's more good news in the new law. Teenagers are completely banned from using cellphones, both talking and texting, until they have a full driver's license.  If a teenager has a learner's permit or intermediate driver's license its illegal to use a cellphone in the car period, end of story.  This is a great idea.  Teenage driver's are the least experienced and need to focus their attention on driving not texting their friends. 

A recent study at the University of Washington found that on a daily basis 1 out 16 drivers is using a handheld cellphone on Washington roads.  During rush hour the number climbs to 1 out 13 drivers is using a handheld cellphone while driving. Here in Kirkland I think those numbers are very low, seems more like 1 out 5 cars. 

The study observed nearly 40,000 drivers from February 12-28, 2010.  Drivers were seen making calls, texting, and otherwise using their phones in one hand and driving with the other hand.  The study also found that drivers who were using their cellphone were almost always alone in the car.  

Many studies have documented the ways cellphones distract drivers. Distracted drivers cause many of Washington's car accidents each year. Hopefully, this new law will help reduce those numbers.

 
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