Thanks to a piece of legislature slated to go into effect July 23, motorists soon can be ticketed for driving under the influence while completely sober
Operating a motor vehicle while using an electronic device led to more than 3,400 U.S. deaths in 2015. Moreover, of the more than 22,300 drivers observed by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 71 percent were found to be engaged with their phones while operating their vehicles. These shocking statistics likely are the reason the state Senate approved the Driving under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act by a vote of 39 to 10 back in April of this year.
Here are some things you need to know about the DUIE Act:
“Personal electronic devices” are defined as a cell phone, tablet, laptop, two-way messaging device, or electronic game. However, two-way radios, citizens band radios, or amateur radio equipment are not included in this classification.
Drivers using a personal electronic device while operating a motor vehicle will be guilty of a traffic infraction and will be required to pay a fine of approximately $136. This fine will be doubled for subsequent infractions that occur in the five years following the first.
Use of one of these devices isn’t just limited to talking on a phone. You can be fined for holding a phone or other device with either or both hands. Moreover, motorists cannot use their hand or finger “to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data,” even when a phone is mounted on the dash or placed in the driver’s lap. Also, it should go without saying, but using a device to watch a video also is a pretty obvious no-no under this law.
Touching or picking up a phone at a stop light or while stuck in unmoving traffic (we’re looking at you, I-405) will not be permitted. In order to utilize a device while behind the wheel, drivers must be pulled over and parked out of the flow of traffic.
Using a device for actions a driver may see as a necessary function of their journey — such as changing their Spotify station or setting a new destination on their GPS — will not dissuade police offers from issuing a citation.
The good news is, motorists who already utilize Bluetooth technology to make and receive calls and talk to text services are golden as long as they can avoid physically touching their device.
Unlike previous legislation, this new law requires cell phone violations be reported to insurance companies and likely will affect car insurance rates for ticketed drivers.
For more information, view the Senate bill here.