Several states have banned cell phone use and texting while driving. In Washington, all drivers are prohibited from sending texts and calling on their cell phones while driving. Additionally, the state also prohibits novice drivers from using handheld and hands-free cell phones for all novice drivers.
Cell Phone Regulation in Washington
There are few circumstances where the law allows drivers to use a cell phone while driving:
• Driving or operating an authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck or responding to a disabled vehicle
• Communicating with a hands-free device including a headset, earpiece or speaker phone
• Summoning medical help, using a mobile communications device to prevent personal injury or damage to property and reporting illegal activities
• When using a hearing aid
However, all novice learners with a learner’s or intermediate license are prohibited from all kinds of cell phone usage when driving.
So if all cell phone usage is prohibited, what does the law allow? If you cannot abstain from using your phone, or you have an emergency, the following options are available. These options won’t get you into trouble with the law:
• Using a speaker phone
• Using a Bluetooth wireless device
• Using a car cell phone kit
• Using a wired headset
So far, these are the laws that govern voice calls in the State of Washington. You may also want to know about the laws that govern texting while driving.
Washington Laws on Texting
All drivers in Washington are prohibited from texting while driving except in the following circumstances:
• Operating a licensed emergency vehicle
• Reporting criminal activities, summoning emergency help
• When attempting to prevent personal injury and damage to property
• Relaying communication between a transit and the operator’s dispatch in which case the device is permanently attached to the car.
Even bus drivers are prohibited from using their handheld devices either to make calls or text unless the circumstances are allowed in the law.
So how is Washington cell phone law enforced? New laws enacted in the state impose a mandatory cash fine for all first-time offenders. The laws are considered “primary” laws which mean that an officer can pull you over for the offense, even if he did not witness any other legal violation on your part. Therefore, when an officer sees you driving while texting, he issues a citation. In fact, an officer can pull you over when he notices you holding your cell phone while driving.
It’s worth noting that the states of Washington and New Jersey are the only states that explicitly ban texting while driving. In Washington, driving while texting is enforced as a secondary law where an officer gives you a ticket for texting while driving only if there was another violation occurring at the time.
This is vital information not just to you as an individual, but also to every business owner in the state. If you do not advise your employees about these laws, you may be liable if they are caught violating the law while carrying out business related activities on your behalf.
Author Bio: James Rodney is a legal expert residing in Washington. While he is not busy helping clients, James likes to blog about Washington cell phone law and other traffic violations. His legal advice helps readers drive on the right side of the law.