State Patrol: Using cell phone while driving will now cost you $136

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - The warning period for the state's new distracted driving law ends Tuesday, and motorists caught texting and driving will now receive a $136 ticket, officials said.

The new law, dubbed the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (E-DUI), bans the use of hand-held cell phones or watching videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic or at a stoplight. This includes tablets, laptops, games, or any hand-held electronic devices.

Since the law took effect on July 23, 2017, state troopers have issued 6,475 distracted driving warnings statewide.

Now the warnings will be replaced with a ticket. The first E-DUI ticket will cost drivers $136. If the driver gets a second ticket within five years, the fine increases to $234. In addition, all information on cell phone infractions will be made available to insurance companies.

"When you drive distracted, you are putting both yourself and other drivers in danger," said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. "By eliminating distractions while driving, we will move closer to reaching the statewide Target Zero goal of no fatalities and serious injuries by 2030."

Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington state. And one out of four crashes involves cell phone use just prior to the crash.

Other types of dangerous distractions are also covered by the law.

For instance, if a driver commits another traffic violation - like running a red light - and that person was distracted by another activity besides an electronic device, that driver can receive a $99 ticket for driving while "dangerously distracted." Examples of other distractions include putting on makeup, shaving, reading or brushing teeth.

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