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Under the Influence of Texting

As of January 1, 2008, a new law against texting while driving went into effect in the state of Washington.

Texting while driving is considered to be a secondary violation.  Accordingly, police cannot stop drivers if they see drivers in direct violation of this law.

When other driving concerns are noticed or laws are broken, such as weaving or unsafe lane changes, drivers may end up with two citations instead of one.

It would be a good idea as well to start looking into hands-free devices.  Beginning July 1, 2008, the law requiring hands-free devices will go into effect. 

Below is the Washington Statute regarding text messaging while driving.

RCW 46.61.668
Sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving. (Effective January 1, 2008.)
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person operating a moving motor vehicle who, by means of an electronic wireless communications device, other than a voice-activated global positioning or navigation system that is permanently affixed to the vehicle, sends, reads, or writes a text message, is guilty of a traffic infraction. A person does not send, read, or write a text message when he or she reads, selects, or enters a phone number or name in a wireless communications device for the purpose of making a phone call.

     (2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to a person operating:

     (a) An authorized emergency vehicle; or

     (b) A moving motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to:

     (i) Report illegal activity;

     (ii) Summon medical or other emergency help;

     (iii) Prevent injury to a person or property; or

     (iv) Relay information between a transit or for-hire operator and that operator’s dispatcher, in which the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle.

     (3) Enforcement of this section by law enforcement officers may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of this title or an equivalent local ordinance or some other offense.

     (4) Infractions under this section shall not become part of the driver’s record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, a finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers.

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