When most drivers in Washington State think about laws prohibiting driving under the influence (DUI), they think about accidents and injuries resulting from drunk driving or drugged driving.

While driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs certainly can cause a car accident, it is important for drivers in Washington State to know that driving under the influence of electronic devices is also illegal in the state.

To be clear, you should know that the new Washington State DUI-E law, or E-DUI law, took effect in 2017. According to an article in Fox News after the law went into effect, it was drafted “in response to a 32 percent increase in deaths from distracted driving from 2014 to 2015.

What else do you need to know about the E-DUI law and how it works?

Learning More About the E-DUI Law in Washington State

The Washington State E-DUI law prohibits any use of a handheld phone while you are driving. Handheld phone usage, or the use of any other electronics device, is prohibited even if you have come to a complete stop in your motor vehicle.

According to Governor Jay Inslee, this “electronic driving while impaired” law is designed to prevent crashes caused by smartphone use behind the wheel. As Inslee explained, when you are driving with a phone, you are more dangerous than if you are driving drunk.

The following are key things for drivers to know about the E-DUI law in Washington:

  • Any handheld cell phone use is unlawful if you are driving;
  • It is unlawful to use a handheld device even if you are stopped completely at a red light or a stop sign;
  • You cannot use any type of personal electronic device behind the wheel, from smart phones to handheld video games; and
  • You cannot even hold a cell phone—even if you are not talking or texting on it.

Definitions Under Washington State Law

Under Washington State law (RCW 46.61.672), the following are definitions you need to know in order to understand the E-DUI law:

  • Driving is defined as operating a car on a highway, including while temporarily stationary.
  • Driving does not include when the vehicle has pulled over to the side of the road.
  • Personal electronic device is defined as portable electronic devices that are capable of wireless communication and are not manufactured primarily for hands-free use in a car. 
  • A personal electronic device does not includeradios.
  • To “use” a personal electronic device means one of the following holding a personal electronic device in your hands or using your hand to access data.

Contact a Washington State Distracted Driving Attorney

If you were involved in a crash caused by a distracted driver and sustained injuries, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation. A Yakima distracted driving accident lawyer can assist you. Contact Kapuza Lighty PLLCto learn more about how we can assist you.


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