The state is now mulling a financial incentive from the feds to toughen up the law.
Drivers who are caught texting while driving are issued a $124 ticket. The amount is the same for first, second and third violations.
But would repeat offenders stop if the price rose with each ticket? The federal government thinks so, and it could be worth millions of dollars from Uncle Sam.
Washington state already has one of the toughest texting-while-driving laws in the country. The federal government likes that, and may reward the state with a $300,000 grant to incorporate an educational campaign that spreads awareness of the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
In order to qualify for the grant, however, the feds say the state's law must be even tougher and include increasing fines for repeat offenders and for teens with intermediate driver's licenses using a cellphone while driving for any reason.
"I have to say it's a new idea to me, because nobody has ever talked about it," said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, chairperson of the House Transportation Committee.
"I think people need to take it seriously, and I don't see them doing it now," Clibborn said. "It is something that hits them in the pocketbook so maybe they would take it seriously."
A tougher law could mean the cost of a texting-while-driving ticket could rise from $124 to $248 for the second violation, and to $372 for the third.
"I think its worth taking a look at it," Clibborn said.
The state would have to enact the tougher texting laws by next fall to get the extra federal money for 2014.