New traffic laws that take effect on July 23 will close loopholes in current law regarding drivers in the Washington state using phones or handheld electronic devices and adding additional fines for secondary activities like eating.
While it is currently illegal to text or hold your phone to your ear while driving, new legislation clarifies that this law applies to anyone operating a vehicle on a public roadway, a press release from the City of Redmond said.
Previously, drivers stopped for a light or stuck in freeway backup could argue they were not driving, so the law wouldn’t apply. Beginning on July 23, law enforcement will be able to ticket anyone using a phone whether or not the car is moving.
When the law goes into effect, officers will not be under a mandate to offer a grace period and drivers can be ticketed $136 for a first offense and $234 for a second offense.
These tickets will also be reported to insurance companies, which could affect rates.
An extra $30 can be added to a standard traffic infraction ticket if the driver is observed engaging in activity not related to operating the vehicle like eating or grooming, the release said.