WA State Patrol: Drivers could face $136 fine if caught holding their cell phone

WA State Patrol: Drivers could face $136 fine if caught holding their cell phone

YAKIMA, Wash.-- Many have done it.

“I’m guilty of it,” said driver Scott Riley.

Distracted driving. It's anything that takes your focus away from driving. Distracted driving can be talking on your cell phone, eating, or smoking to name a few.

According to the Washington Department of Transportation, in 2015, a distracted driver was involved in a crash every 12 minutes.

Although Washington state passed the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act in July 2017, some drivers caught using electronic devices were let off with a warning during a six-month grace period.

Now, law enforcement will ticket those they see holding their phone and driving.

“The ultimate goal of this law is to prevent traffic fatalities. The Washington State Patrol firmly believes there is no acceptable number of traffic fatalities in Washington state, in support of Target Zero, which is to reach zero fatalities by the year 2030,” said Trooper Brian Moore.

Drivers aren't allowed to use hand-held cell phones while driving. This includes being stopped in traffic or at a stop light. The only time it's okay, is if you're calling 911.

Some think ticketing distracted drivers is long overdue.

“I think it's about time. I have three kids who ride in the car with me, a lot. The number of people you see on their cell phones while driving is immense. There's a massive problem in this state and I think it needs to be addressed,” said Nicholas Batten.

Scott Riley agrees. He says the risk of getting a ticket will make him think twice about touching that cell phone, when behind the wheel.

“I think it's a good thing, because when you're looking down at your phone, you're distracted. You're not paying attention to what you're doing and people should pay the price when they're doing that,” said Riley.

The fine for the first ticket is $136, and if you get another ticket within five years, that fine will cost you at least $234.

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