Whereas we do not practice law in Washington state, we found the title of the new distracted driving law there very interesting. The new Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (DUI-E) in WA has stirred up a lot of controversy and commentary. “On the road, off the phone” are the new buzzwords in WA.
This blog spot will be mainly an informational or opinion piece, though if you do have an out-of-state traffic ticket you would like us to help you with, please give us a call, 661-349-9300, or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we can’t make you any blanket promises, we will be happy to look into it for you.
DUI-E & AB 1785, Similarities and Distinctive Differences
One of the obvious similarities is that it is illegal in both states to use a hand-held device, even when stuck in traffic. If you pick up your phone for any reason, you may be ticketed. Many would argue this “treats drivers like children” and to a certain degree that is true, but it is difficult not to draw a line in the sand when some drivers will text or check email while driving the speed limit.
USA Today appears to have exacerbated the problem by announcing on a video that drivers would need to put down their coffee while driving to work, which isn’t exactly true. Whoa, you know how defensive people can get about their coffee.
The controversial portion of the DUI-E law appears to be the “secondary” offense, which if you are stopped for a “primary” offense, such as speeding or an improper lane change can get you another ticket of $99 for distracted driving for such things as putting on makeup, eating, and/or drinking. The law is not specific as to what constitutes “non-electronic” distracted driving but leaves it to the discretion of the law enforcement officer (LEO).
Which is like the problem many California truckers have with AB 1785, while it makes it unlawful to use handheld communication devices, it does not specifically address the CB radio, which truckers have used for decades but could be ticketed for under AB 1785. When questioned about it, CHP officials said the law did not target truckers for CB radio use, but it was up to the discretion of the LEO. It is our opinion that laws should be clear and concise, with no room for interpretation by LEOs.
Drivers in WA will be fined $136 for a first offense or using a handheld device while driving and $234 for the second offense within five years, while Californians are fined $162 ($20 “base” fine) and $285 ($50 “base” fine) respectively. Unlike the WA DUI-E law, Californians below the age of 18, under AB 1785, may not use any communications devices while driving, even GPS or built-in hands-free devices.
Another similarity is that in both states it is legal to call 9-1-1 for emergency services. Call Bigger & Harman if you have any questions about California’s AB 1785 or any traffic ticket inquiries, but please, not while you’re driving.
Bigger & Harman, APC
Mark Bigger and Paul Harman are traffic ticket defenders who represent their clients in traffic courts in Central Valley California county courts in Kern, Kings, Tulare, Mono, Inyo, and Fresno, along with some county courts in LA, SLO, Riverside, and San Bernardino in Southern California.
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