Hands-free cell phone rule in effect

Published on Thu, Jul 3, 2008 by Coral Garnick

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Hands-free cell phone rule in effect

By Coral Garnick

Drivers in Washington state who hold a cell phone to their ear while driving may now face a $124 fine if they are caught.

The new state law came into effect July 1 and stipulated that drivers can no longer hold a phone to their ear while driving; it must be on speaker or drivers must use a hands-free device, said Doug Dahl, traffic safety program coordinator for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Along with the text message ban that came into effect January 1, talking on the phone without a hands-free device while driving is a secondary offense, meaning people have to be pulled over for another traffic violation in order to be cited for using their phones, Dahl said.
“Back when seatbelts became a secondary offense we saw their use go up some, then when it became a primary offense it went up even more,” Dahl said.

As with any law, there are exceptions. Motorists may use their cell phone while driving if there is an emergency, to report illegal activities, or if you use a hearing aid.

Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force can be reached by calling 360/398-2812. Their website is www.trafficsafetyinfo.net..