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Proposed Washington Law Would Ban Holding Phone While Driving

Intel Free Press


It’s long been against the law to text and drive in Washington, but the rules would get much stricter under a proposal introduced Wednesday in the legislature.

The sponsors believe it’s time to update state law to keep up with technology. 

Theproposed lawaims to discourage drivers from keeping one hand on the wheel and one hand on the smartphone. It would outlaw even holding a wireless communications device while you’re driving. The legislation also specifically bans emailing, instant messaging or any other form of electronic communication or data retrieval while driving.

In fact, it would even be illegal to pick up and check your phone while stopped in traffic or at a light. Repeat violators would face double fines. But you could still make a hands-free call and the law would not apply to an on-board navigation system.

The sponsors of the update to the texting-and-driving ban say it’s not just a matter of public safety, but also about protecting Washington’s eligibility for federal safety grants.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.