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Texting, cell phone use while driving becomes primary offense

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Published on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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The House and Senate came to an agreement last Thursday night over the bill which makes using a cell phone or texting while driving a primary offense. The bill will now go to the governor.

If the bill is signed by the governor, police will be able to pull drivers over if they see them talking on their cell phones or texting while driving.

Drivers will still be able to use a headset while driving, however, drivers under 18 will not be allowed any cell phone use —not even with a headset.

This will give police the authority to stop teens, even if they are using a headset.
Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, approve the bill. Hope is a Seattle police officer and voted for the bill mainly because of the dangers of texting, including writing, reading and sending text messages.

“The reason I voted for it was because of the texting. I just don’t believe that people should be driving and texting at the same time,” Hope said. “I’m torn on people using their cell phones to talk on while driving.”
Hope also explained that both the current law and this new law exempts police officers from talking on their cell phones while driving.

“I don’t know why we (the police) are exempted,” he said.
Hope pointed out that citizens have concerns over the computers that police have installed in their vehicles stating that the computers are used to send police information calls and destinations.
He explains that they are actually safer than writing the directions or addresses down by hand because the information is sent directly to their computer.

“In the Seattle Police Department we don’t even have internet access on those computers. However, there is still no excuse for a police officer to be texting while driving.”
Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, is the sponsor of the bill.
“I’ve fought for this for 10 years, and sometimes I thought this day would never come,” she said in a written statement.

Senator Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens,  also voted yes on this bill.
Voting against the bill was Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe.
He feels that police have better things to do than trying to catch people on their phones.
The law will go into effect on June 9, once the governor signs it.

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