At the end of July state law changes to clamp down on distracted driving due to personal electronics, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop computer or gaming device. The law should take effect around July 23, 90 days after the state Legislature’s regular session ended.
The new law bans handheld uses such as composing a text or reading a message, picture or data. Taking a photograph while driving will also be illegal. The law also specifies that drivers cannot use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.
Texting while driving and holding a cellphone to your ear remain illegal.
You may use a smartphone if it is mounted on a dashboard cradle, for example to use a navigation app. But you cannot use it to watch video while driving.
Electronic systems that are built into your vehicle, such as hands-free calling or navigation systems, remain legal. Calls to 911 or other emergency services also remain legal. You may use a handheld device if you have safely pulled off the roadway.
Violation of the law, called Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE), is a primary offense, meaning a police officer or deputy can stop you if he/she sees you using a handheld device. And a DUIE citation will be reported on your motorist record. The traffic fine for DUIE will be $136 for the first violation and $235 for the second violation.
As passed, the law was supposed to take effect in January 2019 to allow for a ramp up of an educational effort. However, Governor Jay Inslee vetoed that part of the bill to have it take effect sooner.
The Seattle Times: