A new law imposing stiff penalties on those who drive while under the influence…of electronics… goes into effect in Washington state soon. The new law, commonly referred to as “E-DUI,” was enacted in an attempt to reduce distracted driving. The state’s drivers will no longer be allowed to use a cell phone- or any electronic device- while driving, even when stopped at a traffic light.
The bill was proposed in response to a reported 32 percent increase in deaths from distracted driving from 2014 to 2015. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, standing on the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia, said: “Put the cell phones down, preserve life. When you are driving with a cell phone, you are a more dangerous driver than if you are driving drunk with a .08 blood alcohol level.”
State troopers will hand out warnings for the first few months before they start writing tickets. The first citation will cost drivers $136. A second within five years will result in a $236 fine. (A third such infraction will result in the death penalty, but only if the driver is a white male. Just kidding. Lighten up, Francis).
Tickets issued for driving while electronically impaired will go on a motorist’s record and be reported to their insurance provider, according to a state-run website. Gov. Inslee says he believes this law will be as successful as the “click it, or ticket” seat-belt law that now has a 95% compliance rate in the Evergreen State.
Under the new law, drivers can also get a $99 ticket for “other distractions,” such as grooming, smoking, eating or reading, if it interferes with safe driving and they are pulled over for another traffic offense. Sewing or knitting, working on a crossword puzzle, playing solitaire, changing clothes, wearing earmuffs or headphones, playing Pokémon Go, having sex, playing a musical instrument, and taking a dump are also believed to be verboten.
Gov. Inslee boasted that passing the electronic driving while impaired bill was a huge step forward for his state, saying: “There’s hardly anything we’ve done in the last several years at the state Capitol to save more lives than this distracted driving law.”
It is odd that Washington doesn’t tolerate driving while under the influence of alcohol, or driving “while under the influence of electronics,” but is apparently perfectly okay with motorists driving while under the influence of marijuana. It is particularly odd considering that, according to the state’s own Marijuana Impact Report, incidents of marijuana-impaired driving have increased dramatically since the state legalized “recreational” use of the drug in 2012. What’s more, fatal driving accidents increased by an incredible 122 percent from 2010 to 2014 alone, according to the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.
Yes, you can be well and truly baked- like an Idaho potato- behind the wheel in Washington, but don’t reach for a beer…or your phone.
The state of Washington is literally going to pot.