Cell Phone Law

Effective July 2017,
drivers are banned from holding a phone or other electronic device while driving in the State of Washington.  This includes any use of a phone, tablet, or other device, texting, tweeting, or Facebook posting, all behind the wheel, a ticketable offense.  It will come with a $136 penalty for first offenders; and that penalty will jump to $235 for a second offense. 

The bill also makes distracted driving first offenses reportable to insurance companies, meaning the practical penalties of increased rates could cost more than the ticket over the long run. 

It is a safety hazard to text while driving.  Drivers looking at their screen instead of looking at where they are going, can miss seeing potential hazards.
  • The following estimates show the number of distracted driving-related crashes in recent years:

    Washington State:

    • 2016  -  Nearly 17,000 drivers were pulled over for using handheld phones; in addition, thousands of others hid their phones from law enforcement vehicles.
    • 2016 -  9.2% of drivers were distracted, including 5.6% who were holding or manipulating phones. 
    • 2015 -   171 deaths in Washington State (a jump from 130 in 2014)
    • 2015 -  30% of all 2015 fatal collisions  were caused by distracted driving in Washington State. 

    Nationwide Stats:
  • 2015 -  3,477 deaths occurred
  • 2012 -  over 3,300 deaths, and 420,000 injuries occurred
    (Sources:  Washington State Traffic Safety Commission; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data)