On Sunday, July 23, 2017 Washington’s Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) Act will go into effect. Drivers can no longer hold their phones while driving, and use of hands-free devices will be restricted to a single touch.
Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington, and 71 percent of distracted drivers engage in the most dangerous distraction, cell phone use behind the wheel. With the passage and signing of the E-DUI Act, the governor and legislature are taking action to address this rise in traffic-related deaths.
“The Traffic Safety Commission is dedicated to reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2030,” said Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). “We believe this law will have a profound effect on the safety of drivers and pedestrians. Putting E-DUIs into law is an important milestone on the journey to Target Zero.”
Under the new law, drivers may not use hand-held cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. This includes tablets, laptops, games, or any hand-held electronic devices.
The law restricts hands-free use to a single touch. WTSC recommends starting GPS or music before driving. Drivers can hold the phone and dial it while driving when contacting emergency services.
“Distracted driving contributes to countless traffic injuries and deaths every year,” says Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “These collisions are preventable and this new law is a positive step to keep drivers focused on the road and not on their electronic devices.”
The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136. If the driver incurs a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234. Unlike the current law, which exempts cell phone violations from being reported to insurance companies, all information on cell phone infractions will be available to insurance companies.
Other types of dangerous distractions are also covered by the law. Drivers can receive a $99 ticket for driving while dangerously distracted if they engage in any activity that interferes with safe driving. This could include grooming, smoking, eating, or reading. However, enforcement of dangerously distracted is a secondary offense, meaning the driver would have to commit another traffic offense while dangerously distracted before the additional fine would apply.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is the state’s designated highway safety office. We share a vision with numerous other state and local public agencies to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030.