No Grace Period for Cell Phone Yapping Drivers

Drivers beware: There’ll be no easing into a new state law that makes it illegal to talk on a cell phone and drive without a hands free device.

Come June 10, Washington state troopers will be giving out $124 tickets. Troopers said that while it’s common for the state patrol to offer an “educational grace period when a new law requires drivers to change long-standing behavior,” there’ll be no such thing this time around.

“Drivers have already had nearly two years to adjust their driving habits,” said state patrol chief John Batiste. “We will fully enforce this law from day one.”

It had already been illegal to text and talk on a cell phone without a hands free device, but law enforcement couldn’t enforce it unless the driver had committed another “primary” offense. Even so, troopers have written 3,000 tickets and given 5,900 warnings since that law went into effect.

I’m seeing some pretty good deals on hands free devices around the web. Better to pay the $40 or so for one now than have a $124 ticket and a lecture from a state trooper.

Batiste is disappointed that the laws’ previous status didn’t win more voluntary
compliance. In some cases there was outright defiance.

“They would look right at our troopers with phones held to their ears,” Batiste
said. “They knew that without another violation we couldn’t do anything.”

The texting and cell phone requirements are intended to save lives and reduce
injuries by eliminating these two major sources of driver distraction.

“Few drivers are going to admit they were on a cell phone, or texting, after a
crash,” Batiste said. “We are choosing to take action before a collision occurs
in hopes of preventing these needless tragedies.”

The fine for a violation is $124.

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