Starting in July, officers in Washington state will begin to enforce a new type of DUI that drivers can receive while completely sober.
The offense is called ‘DUIE’ or ‘Driving Under the Influence of Electronics.’
According to the Seattle Times, the law will go into effect on or around July 23, 2017, and “forbids virtually all use of handheld gadgets such as phones, tablets, laptop computers and gaming devices while driving.”
Republican Sen. Ann Rivers, a sponsor of the bill, originally proposed a 2018 start date, but agreed to a compromise that would postpone the new law for one year, until 2019, in order to give drivers and police time to prepare.
In April, Gov. Jay Inslee, decided to veto the postponement and fast-track the law’s effective date, making it an enforceable law even earlier than originally planned.
“Now that the governor has dramatically shortened the timeline, people need to be ready much sooner,” said Sen. Ann Rivers in a statement.
Although it’s currently illegal to text or hold the phone to your ears while driving, many motorists skirt the rules by holding their phones between their legs or below their necks. The new law would make operating a handheld phone in any capacity illegal. It also prohibits the use of a handheld phone while at a red light or stop sign.
Operating a mounted hands-free phone will remain legal, and drivers may also use minimal touch features in order to active apps such as a mobile GPS. Citizen Band radios (CBs) will also remain legal.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, a standard fine of $126 will apply for first-time offenders, and rise to $235 for a second offense.
In addition, drivers who receive a citation for DUIE may also see a rise in their insurance rates.
Between now and July 23rd, officers will begin handing out information cards to educate drivers on the upcoming law. However, once the law goes into effect, drivers in violation will immediately begin to receive fines.