When Washington enacted its E-DUI law last year, only warnings were issued for the first six months. During those six months, insurance companies were unable to collect data. Now that citations are being issued, insurance companies plan to collect data in a possible effort to adjust premiums. As data from E-DUI infractions increases, premiums are likely to rise in response.
The NW Insurance Council has stated that its industry has been ahead of the fact that hand-held devices impact driving. In fact, the organization, which is supported by insurance companies such as PEMCO, USAA, and Farmers Insurance, acknowledges that using such a device can equate to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel. The Council warns that the industry's response is likely to be swift and severe as ticketing increases.
E-DUI and DUI Charges: Are They Equal in Severity?
It remains unclear if the insurance industry will weigh both DUIs and E-DUIs equally. Early commentary from insurance companies are mixed. Some are stating E-DUIs will not be viewed equally as DUIs while others say they will be dealt with as though they are the same. The actual standards may flesh out with different levels of severity considered when raising premiums.
Washington law enforcement began issuing warnings in July when the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act went into effect. Between July 2017 and January 2018, officers issued 6,475 warnings. Drivers caught using their hand-held devices are now issued a $136 ticket, or $234 if caught a second time within a five-year period. The law was a response to increased use of cell phones in recent years. One out of every four crashes involve a cell phone. E-DUI is intended to lower those statistics. Thus, like alcohol, if you know you need to contact someone (or if you know you will have a drink), respond accordingly -- contact the person first (or wait until you are sober) before getting behind the wheel.
The law makes it illegal to also engage in other activities behind the wheel, like eating or putting on make-up. If you do these things, you could be cited for driving while “dangerously distracted”. This offense, however, is a secondary offense, which means officers cannot pull drivers over for these but can cite them if discovered during a primary offense, and if cited, the fine could be upwards to $99.
If you must use your phone, your tablet, or your GPS for directions, pull over to a safe location, put the car in park, and then use your device.
DUI Attorney in Washington State
If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI, the charges are serious and you will need a serious solution. Call Karimi Law Office today to set up a free consultation. Criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor and can help you navigate the court system to get the very best results. Contact him today.