SPOKANE, Wash. – The new distracting driving law for cell phones starts Sunday, but many still have questions over the law and what punishments drivers could face for driving while under the influence of electronics.
The name of the law itself is causing some confusion. It is called the Electronics DUI Act. Starting Sunday, you can get what is called a driving under the influence of electronics ticket. The DUI portion has led some to believe the ticket holds the same weight as a criminal DUI. This is not the case.
If you get a ticket for driving under the influence of electronics, it does not carry the same weight as having a criminal DUI on your record. Unlike driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, using your phone while driving is not considered a criminal offense. Instead, it is considered a civil traffic violation.
Your first E-DUI ticket comes with a fine of $136. If you get a second ticket within five years, the fine goes up to $234. Just like a speeding ticket, if you do not pay the fine, a court could have your license temporarily suspended. However, it is unlikely your license would be suspended for getting too many E-DUI tickets.
The new law also said the ticket will be reported to your insurance company. KREM 2 spoke with two different insurance companies over the phone. Both said just like any traffic violation, the ticket will go on your DMV record. Insurance companies have access to your record and typically check it if you are signing up for a new policy. Both companies said there are no set guidelines yet for how many E-DUI tickets could impact your rates.