Over the last few days, we’ve heard a lot of your concerns and confusion about the new distracted driving law that went into effect on July 23, 2017— specifically regarding the difference between a primary and secondary offense.

A primary offense is where a law enforcement officer can pull over your vehicle and issue a citation. In this case, you can be pulled over for watching videos, texting, calling, basically anytime a phone is in your hand (even when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light). If you’re caught, a citation will not only cost you at least $136 but can also be reported to your insurance provider.

A secondary offense means that a law can only be enforced when a primary offense has also occurred. Some examples of secondary offenses are:

  • Smoking
  • Taking a drink of coffee or water
  • Grooming

The bottom line is you can’t get pulled over for these things alone. You can only be cited for these secondary offenses if they interfere with safe driving and are coupled with a primary offense. Example, you’re on your morning commute, take a sip of coffee, and continue on your way safely. There’s no problem. However, if you’re eating a hamburger with one hand, putting on mascara with the other, and traveling across all lanes. You’ll get pulled over and cited for lane travel which is a primary offense (a $136 ticket) and a dangerously distracted secondary offense (a $99 ticket).

To sum it up: Don’t do anything distracting while driving. Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32% from 2014 to 2015 in Washington. Not to mention one out of four collisions involve cell phone use just prior to the crash. Put the phone down and be safe out on the roads.

Also, people have questions on whether bus drivers can use the phone. According to Senate Bill 5289, which is now signed into law, transit system employees can relay time sensitive information to their dispatchers. Also, authorized emergency vehicles are exempted from the law.

Last week, we released a blog post answering some of your most frequently asked questions (including information about the six month grace period, ride share services, and more). You can view that article here: https://wspinsideout.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/new-distracted-driving-law-recap-of-todays-qa/