Washington state to ban texting while driving

| March 31, 2010

Washington became the latest state to enact a law banning texting or cell phone use without a headset while driving.

On March 26 Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that makes it a primary offense to be caught holding a cell phone to your ear while driving, or to be reading, writing or sending text messages.

The new law strengthens the state’s current law that makes texting or cell phone use a secondary offense if the driver was stopped for another infraction, such as speeding. Beginning on June 10, police can pull over a driver for texting or talking without a headset and give them a $124 ticket. Dialing a cell phone isn’t considered texting under the new law.

Exempt are transit and emergency vehicle personnel, as well as anyone who is text messaging or calling and not using a headset to report illegal activity or call emergency help. Also exempt are people who are using a hearing aid or operating a tow truck.

Washington becomes one of seven states and the District of Columbia in making texting and talking without a headset a primary offense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 20 states and D.C., according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.