After Washington State enacted a second-offense law for texting we all knew it was just a matter of time before it moved into the primary offense category and yesterday lawmakers signed the bill to pass along to the governor. The law (I am sure it will be signed) will make it a primary offense to be caught holding a cell phone to your ear while driving or to be caught reading, writing, or sending text messages. You will get a $124 ticket and it will not become part of your driver's record (that will probably come in the future). One part of the law that I am particularly pleased to see is the ban on any cellphone use at all (even hands-free) by driver's with a learner's permit or intermediate license, given to those between 16 and 18. My daughter turns 16 next month and I don't want any temptation of using the cellphone for her so I fully support this law.
Texting and driving is just plain dumb and for teens with very little driving experience and much slower reactions it is deadly. I understand the law does state that dialing a phone is not considered texting, but this part will be tough to prove unless officers are trained on cell phone technology since it should be quite easy to check a person's phone and see what they were doing at the time of the witnessed offense. However, is checking the dialing history of a phone a violation of personal privacy?
There are some very good wireless Bluetooth headsets available (see my Jawbone ICON review) and there really is no excuse for not going hands-free. If you really need to text someone, then please pull over to a safe area and do it. Do not risk your life and those of others to send them from your phone please. There are also programs that will read your text messages to you so if you really must know what is going on there are legal ways available.