In response to the documented dangers of large numbers of drivers operating a vehicle while using cell phones and other electronics, most states are enacting distracted driving laws. In July 2017 the state of Washington enacted a distracted driving law called DUI-E Washington – ‘driving under the influence of electronics’. It is the first law of its kind equating the danger of using electronic devices while driving with the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Violations of the DUI-E Washington law are reportable. Depending on your existing driving record, a DUI-E ticket could subject you to license suspension, and the need to purchase SR22 insurance to reinstate your driving privileges.
What is prohibited under the DUI-E Washington law?
The Washington distracted driving law considers the following to be primary offenses while operating a motor vehicle, which means an officer can pull you over if you’re observed doing the following:
- Using hand-held cell phones, laptops, games or other hand-held devices, even if stopped in traffic, at a stop sign or traffic light.
- Using phones to send or receive text messages (texting and driving), photos or data, or to take pictures.
- Watching movies or videos on built-in vehicle screens.
What is allowed under the DUI-E Washington law?
The following use of cell phones and other electronics are allowed under Washington’s DUI-E law:
- Hands-free use of a dashboard mounted smartphone for navigation, as long as it’s limited to a single touch or swipe.
- Built-in electronics that allow hands-free calling or maps.
- Making 911 or other emergency services calls.
- Emergency calls between dispatchers and transit drivers.
- Using hand-held devices if pulled off the road with the vehicle remaining stationary.
- Electronic devices including two-way radio, citizen band radio or amateur radio equipment.
- Emergency and transit drivers are exempt from the law.
What does a DUI-E Washington ticket cost?
If ticketed for DUI-E Washington, the first offense costs the driver $136, and a second offense is $235. Information on violations of the law goes on your driving record, and is available to insurance companies. So in addition to the cost of a ticket(s), your insurance rate may also increase. And if you already have points on your driving record, a DUI-E ticket can result license suspension, requiring you to obtain Washington SR22 insurance to reinstate your license.
Distractions like eating, reading, smoking or grooming are secondary offenses that result in a $99 ticket. (Secondary offenses are those that can be ticketed if the driver is found to be doing them when being stopped by an officer for a primary violation.)
More information related to DUI-E Washington can be found on the Washington DMV website, and in these articles on our website:
If you require an SR22 insurance filing as a result of a DUI-E Washington violation, UltraCar Insurance can help you find a low Washington SR22 insurance rate and file your certificate quickly. We file owner SR22 and non-owner SR22 certificates if you don’t own a vehicle. Start a quote now or call with any questions you may have.