Washington and The New Distracted Driving Law

Unfortunately, approximately 9 million people are killed due to distracted driving in the United State according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 1,000 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involved distracted driving. More and more we are hearing about the impacts of distracted driving in the United States.

Per the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 30% of fatalities and 23% of serious injuries in motor vehicle collisions in our state are a result of distracted driving. 1 in every 4 crashes in our state involved some form of cell phone use just prior to the crash. As a result, Washington State has a new law that addresses using electronic devices while driving. Let’s talk about that.

The Full Law – RCW 46.61.672


Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.672 specifically reviews what is allowed when using a personal electronic device while driving. It is important to note that a “personal electronic device” is listed to include a “cell phone, tablet, laptop, two-way messaging device, or electronic game,” though this list is not exclusive. Additionally, this law defines what counts as “use.” Use is defined as “holding a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands” or “using your hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant message, photographs, or other electronic data; however, this does not preclude the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device” and lastly, “watching video on a personal electronic device.”

So, what does all that really mean? In simple terms, avoid using your electronic device while driving. If you do have to use your device, such as for GPS navigation, set this up before beginning your trip or setup your device to be able to use it hands free.

What Are The Fines?

The first offense is $136.00 citation. The citation can rise to at least $234.00 if a driver is issued another citation within 5 years. Also, there can be an additional penalty of $99.00 if someone is cited for being dangerously distracted under RCW 46.61.673. It is important to know that each offense is reported to a driver’s insurance company, which may impact your insurance rates.

Here are a few tips that you can do to help eliminate driving while distracted:

  1. Focus on the road;
  2. Start your music or GPS prior to driving;
  3. Use your phone’s Do Not Disturb settings if you have it. This can eliminate notifications while you are driving so you are not tempted to reach for your phone;
  4. Put your phone out of reach.


We at Ressler & Tesh recommend and encourage everyone to drive with minimal distractions. If you are the unfortunate victim of a crash due to distracted driving, we can help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your potential claim. You are welcome to give us a call at 206-388-0333 to talk with one of our experienced lawyers.

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