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Jay Inslee
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, holds a cell phone as he speaks during a press event, Monday, July 17, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., to raise awareness of Washington state's new law prohibiting the use of nearly all phones and mobile devices while driving. The law, which is part of the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, goes into effect July 23, 2017. Looking on at left is John Batiste, Chief of the Washington State Patrol. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington’s new distracted driving law took effect



Washington’s new distracted driving law has officially taken effect, according to our affiliate KOMO.

KOMO reported Sunday that the new law rolled out that day prohibits drivers from holding cell phones while sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

The standard traffic fine of $136 reportedly applies to a first offense and rises to $234 for a second violation.

The “minimal use of a finger” is purportedly still allowed for activating, deactivating or initiating a personal electronic device function while driving.

Some Twitter users on Monday poked fun at the new measure, which follows an earlier law in Washington forbidding texting or holding a phone to one’s ear while driving.

Other people on the social media platform shared information about the new law’s impact on citizens.

Authorities in Washington say using hands-free or voice-activated devices in vehicles is still allowed there.

KOMO reported that activities like eating, smoking and putting on makeup, meanwhile, will now be treated as a second offense in Washington.

A second offense reportedly means that a person must be stopped for another violation first besides one of the aforementioned activities.

KOMO reported that the law includes exemptions for using an electronic device for contacting emergency services.

Operating amateur radio equipment is also allowed, according to KOMO, as is two-way or citizens band radio services.

The Washington State Patrol will reportedly be handing out literature about the new law as part of a six-month grace period.

Advocates for the tighter restrictions maintain that it will help save lives by keeping drivers more alert on the road.

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