That lyin’ e-mail still making the rounds

The in basket: It looks like it’s time to again debunk the scurrilous e-mail making the rounds purportedly telling of massive increases in fines for traffic violations in this state.


The in basket: It looks like it’s time to again debunk the scurrilous e-mail making the rounds purportedly telling of massive increases in fines for traffic violations in this state.
Since I first wrote about it in August after Jo Reasons asked about it, Cindy Durday said she’d been sent a copy in September, Janice Smith in October and Sun Opinion Editor Jim Campbell this week. He said he’d gotten it from a family member. And the State Patrol turned out a news release a while back proclaiming the e-mail to be a pack of lies.
Janice also wondered how she could check out what changes the last Legislature really did make in traffic laws.
The out basket: A list of changes in traffic laws by the last Legislature is available through the state Traffic Safety Commission at http://www.wtsc.wa.gov/ Click on Traffic Laws in the top menu bar. Under Description of Traffic Laws you’ll see 2007 Summary – Traffic Safety Legislation. Open it as Word Doc or pdf. file, whichever your computer allows.
The e-mail has evolved a little and now claims the changes were effective Nov. 1. It still claims the lawmakers have set fines of $485 for blocking an intersection, $450 for driving on the shoulder, $380 for an incorrect lane change, says a carpool lane violation is $1,068 for a first infraction and doubles and triples after that until you get your license suspended for the fourth citation, that fines for cell phone use in construction zones double, that both the driver and any over-18 passenger get a ticket if the passenger isn’t wearing a seat belt, that three miles over the speed limit has been established as the citable speed, that cell phone use on the highways must be hands-free as of last July 1 and that “DUI = JAIL.”
Traffic fines did go up this year, but not nearly to the levels cited. Fines for  intersection blocking, shoulder driving, carpool and lane violations went up to the same $124 as most other infractions. The hands-free cell phone law is effective next July 1, only speeding fines double in construction zones, the driver will be issued a seat belt citation only for an unbelted passenger younger than 16, DUI suspects are often but not always booked into jail, and the speed limit is the speed limit. Whatever leeway an officer might give you varies with the officer and the situation.
Urban legend buster Snopes.com says the e-mail makes the same outlandish claims about traffic fine increases in California, Georgia, Texas and Florida when sent to someone in those states and that the state police in some of those states have joined WSP in denying the assertions.

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