Washington State’s new distracted driving law: what you need to know

A decade ago, Washington legislators passed one of the earliest state laws regulating drivers’ cell phone use. Since then, mobile devices have changed dramatically—and distracted driving has become an even bigger problem.

On May 16, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5389: a new, more comprehensive distracted driving law.


Gov. Inslee joined by legislators, family members of victims of distracted driving during the signing of SB 5289 in Tacoma. (Via Governor’s Office )

But he vetoed the section of the bill that put the law into effect on January 1, 2019.

Instead, the new distracted driving law will take effect in July, 2017.

Here’s what you need to know.

Current Law

  • No sending, reading or writing text messages while driving
  • No holding the phone to your ear
  • $124 fine
  • Violations do not affect driving record, are not reported to car insurance company
  • In effect until July 2017

New Law

  • No “personal electronic device” use at all, including at stop lights
  • Fine goes up to $235 for second offense
  • Violations become part of driving record
  • Violations are reported to car insurance company
  • Distraction as a secondary offense can carry additional $30 fine
  • Goes into effect in July 2017




Enough is enough: put your phones away while driving.


We are proud of Washington State for taking the lead in confronting distracted driving.

Too many lives are lost or forever changed because drivers simply aren’t paying attention.

We hope that the new distracted driving law will help keep you—and everyone else on the road—safe.

For more on the new distracted driving legislation, see:


Sen. Rivers introduced the distracted driving bill to the Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 7.



Lawmakers searching for practical solution to distracted driving



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