If you thought politicians were obsessed with DUI laws, check this out.
Back in 2007, the state of Washington passed a law banning texting on handheld cell phones while driving in an effort to prevent distracted driving accidents.
But as laws often are, the measure was several years too late; cell phones had already been equipped with web browsers for over a decade. And the 2007 law did not prohibit surfing the Web, posting on social media, or even using GPS software while driving. So when police would see a driver using a cell phone in Washington and then pull him or her over, the suspect would only have to claim that he or she was web-surfing in order to avoid a ticket.
Now, state lawmakers are trying to plug up that "Twitter loophole." This week, the Senate voted 35-14 to approve a bill that would ban these other activities on a handheld cell phone while driving. Like the 2007 law, Senate Bill 5656 would make allowances for hands-free devices and actions. The new measure would assess a $124 fine for a first violation, and a $209 fine for every subsequent infraction.
But there's another aspect of SB 5656 that may be more relevant to drivers. As it stands now, none of the handheld cell phone use violations go on the driver's record or are reported to insurance companies. With SB 5656, all infractions would appear on a driver's record, and every one after the initial violation would be reported to insurance carriers - which could impact auto insurance rates for drivers.
The bill is set to move to the House, which has not yet set a date to discuss it.