Driving and cell phones can be a costly combinationBY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Get caught with a cell phone in your hands while driving and pay an extra $101.
A new law may will go into effect Jan. 1, 2008 that will site drivers for using their cell phones while driving without a hands free device.
The choice is simple, use a hands free device while driving, or take a chance on getting a ticket.
The catch is you must first be sited for another driving infraction.
As an example, if you are pulled over for speeding and have a cell phone in your hands, you would be fined the additional $101 for using a cell phone while driving.
A local motorist said that the law is “stupid,” stating that there are so many other things that we could be doing that are more important than giving tickets for using a cell phone while driving.
Especially, he says, if you have to be pulled over for doing something else first.
Michelle Bywater disagreed, saying, “There needs to be a law.”
Both agree that many other distractions are just as bad like people putting on makeup, shaving, or eating while driving.
The bill passed the state House with a vote of 59-38 and will become a law next year once Gov. Christine Gregoire signs it.
There will however, be certain situations when a driver can still use a hand-held cell phone and not be fined.
Drivers can use hand-held phones to call for help in an emergency or to report illegal activity. Emergency workers can use a cell phone while driving if it is used for official duty.
Tow-truck drivers are also exempt if they are responding to a motorist with a disabled vehicle.
An amendment also exempts individuals who wear hearing aids.
Gov. Gregoire is expected to sign the bill soon making it a law effective next January 1; but, for the first six months will allow the State Patrol to hand out warnings to violators rather than an immediate fine.
An amendment to exempt taxi cab drivers and commercial drivers was rejected.
The House has already passed a measure that bans drivers from text messaging while driving. That measure is awaiting action in the Senate.
Taylaur Nordhagen of Lake Stevens High School text messages every chance she gets.
“I had 8,000 incoming and 8,000 outgoing text messages in one month, and I only use one hand and my thumb, but it hurts so bad after awhile,” Nordhagen said.
She was quick to add that she never uses her cell phone while driving.
“No, I cannot text while I’m driving, it’s so hard, and I never talk on my phone when I’m driving either.”
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, has had her efforts thwarted trying to get a hands free requirement onto the books for seven years.
Her measure has passed the Senate in past years, but has never come up for a vote in the House until now.
Currently 13 states have a law against drivers with learning permits from talking on a cell phone and 11 states have laws against school bus drivers using them.