New state law prohibits holding electronic device while driving, starting in July


Texting or holding a phone to your ear is already against the law in Washington state, but soon Washington drivers will be prohibited from doing all the other stuff some do while driving or sitting in traffic: checking Facebook, reading emails or anything else that requires them to hold their electronic devices while behind the wheel, our online news partner The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

The measure, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday in Tacoma, prohibits holding an electronic device — including phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets — while driving, including while in traffic or waiting for a traffic light to change. However, the minimal use of a finger” to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of a device while driving will still be allowed under the measure.

Inslee vetoed a section that had the measure take effect in 2019. He said it was too important to wait for the provisions to take effect, so the law will now take effect in mid-July.

For more on the measure, click here to read the full story from The Seattle Times.


  1. Unfortunately, this is ‘only’ a state law, meaning enforcement on the local level may be entirely missing. The reason for this lies in court locations and the need for officers who issue the tickets to attend hearings for contested tickets. If, for example, Edmonds placed a similar ordinance in its municipal code, the municipal court at the Public Safety Building would be the place for these hearings, and officers would be more likely to attend. Otherwise, the court sessions are held near Edmonds CC, and the incentive to attend diminishes significantly.

    When the original cell phone law was passed, I was amazed how it worked to deter folks from using the phone. It did not take too long before people realized the risk of a ticket was very, very low and now I see usage at about the same level as before it was enacted. So, do not be too surprised if this new law makes little difference in what you commonly observe other drivers doing behind the wheel.




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