On a 60-37 vote Thursday night, the House passed a bill that makes it a primary offense to be caught holding a cellphone to your ear while driving, or to be reading, writing or sending text messages. That strengthens the state’s current secondary-offense law for both, which only penalizes drivers with an extra fine if they are pulled over for another infraction, such as speeding.
If Gov. Christine Gregoire signs the bill, police could pull over someone for texting or talking without a headset and give them a $124 ticket.
The legislation also outlaws any cellphone use by a driver with a learner’s permit or an intermediate license, which is given to drivers under 18 years old.
A ticket will not become part of a driver’s record, and dialing a phone is not considered text messaging.
The measure exempts transit and emergency-vehicle personnel, and anyone texting or talking without a headset to report illegal activity or summon emergency help. People using a hearing aid or operating a tow truck are also exempt. (AP)