Reminder for your morning commute: New distracted-driving law in WA State is in effect (DUI-E)!

Washington State has a new anti-distraction law, effective NOW. Be sure you understand the law so you can avoid a citation.

The Seattle Times and Komo News provide useful, detailed accounts of what is banned and what is legal. Here are some of the bullets:

  • Driving under the Influence of Electronics (DUI-E) is a primary offense. A police officer can pull someone over based solely on seeing them using a handheld device, typing on their device, or watching a video.
  • This law became effective yesterday, 7/23/17. It is enforceable now.

What is banned?

  • The new law prohibits a person who is sitting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle from holding a personal electronic device in either or both hands
  • Texting or holding a phone to your ear was already against the law.
  • The new law forbids all handheld use. This means not just phone calls or texting, but composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph, or data.
  • Drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal either.
  • All video watching is illegal, even in dashboard dash-mounted device.
  • Miscellaneous distractions such as grooming or eating are a secondary offense, meaning a ticket may be issued if a law-enforcement officer pulls you over for some other traffic offense.

What is legal?

  • The new law allows for “the minimal use of a finger” to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of a personal electronic device. Police will use their judgment on this. The intention for it to include a one-touch activation action only, where the driver does not need to look away from their windshield.
  • Common built-in electronics, such as hands-free phones and satellite music and maps, are legal.
  • Smartphones mounted in a dashboard cradle may be used for limited purposes, such as navigation, music, or a voice-activated call.
  • Emergency, handheld calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal, and so are urgent calls between transit employees and dispatchers.

What are the penalties?

  • The standard traffic fine of $136 would apply to a first offense, but would increase to $234 for a second offense within five years.
  • For a 6-month grace period, the WA State Patrol will reportedly be handing out literature about the new law. However, the grace period is controversial among police King County Sheriff’s Office intends to begin issuing citations immediately.
  • Don’t take any chances. Expect you will be ticketed and fined if you are stopped for this offense.
  • These citations will be reported in state driving records, unlike the previous law. Insurance companies will track them and violations may impact your insurance rates.

Why is this happening?

  • The Seattle Times reports that last year, 156 of the 537 WA State roadway deaths were related to distraction of various kinds, as were 572 of the 2,208 serious injuries.
  • This intention of the new law is to save lives.

Please reference the Seattle Times & Komo News articles for additional, more detailed information.

DRIVE SAFELY! Please contact our traffic attorneys at Dellino Law Group if you have any questions or if you have been issued a violation and wish to understand your options in contesting.

 

Happy Independence Day! Stay safe and avoid DUI charges

Hooray for a holiday weekend!

Many people will be out celebrating this weekend and all the way through Tuesday, July 4th. There will be many drivers on the road and countless people out enjoying their Independence Day festivities. Please take the necessary steps to keep yourself and those around you safe.

Heavy traffic and anxious drivers out in droves are inevitable, making this a worthy time to remind you of our simple tips for staying safe during holiday driving. Use these tips to maximize the safety of yourself and your passengers, and to decrease the stress of driving this holiday weekend.

Dellino Law Group wishes you an enjoyable Independence Day weekend and urges you to drive safely.

  • Don’t drink and driveMany people will be out celebrating this weekend and alcohol is a common part of the equation. As everyone is out celebrating this weekend, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver. Keep yourself and those around you safe.
  • Make sure the car is readyBe sure your vehicle is properly maintained, in good shape for travel.
  • Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of alternate routes.
  • Buckle upEnsure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
  • Have an emergency planHave a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
  • Do NOT text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone.
  • Keep a safe following distanceallowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don’t try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
  • Watch your speedDrive to the conditions and don’t drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
  • Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don’t drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.

If you alcohol is part of your festivities, please review our essential *TIP FOR AVOIDING A DUI:

  1. Designate a sober driver.If you are the designated driver, don’t drink.
  2. Plan ahead: Save the number of a taxi or rideshare company in your phone so you will always have a backup plan.
  3. Consider using smartphone apps like Lyft or Uber.
  4. If you have been drinking, don’t drive. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use a rideshare company, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  5. If you know others who are about to drive under the influence, help them make other arrangements to get home safely.

Remember that a DUI is more than just a party foul. You could be looking at driver’s license suspension, large fines, jail time, the long term impacts of a criminal record, and much worse. You do not want your celebration to be overshadowed by tragedy. Driving under the influence of alcohol puts at risk your own life and the lives of others.

*If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI – CALL US.

  • Contact our DUI Law Firm immediately for a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available by phone 24/7. Keep our number in your phone or wallet and insist on calling us. We will advocate for you through this confusing and emotional process and help you reach the best possible outcome.

Where are Seattle’s traffic-stop hot spots?

Like most major cities, Seattle has certain areas that see the most traffic tickets.

Seattle PI does us all a favor by highlighting these police “beats” where the most traffic stops appear to occur. Statistics in this article are pulled from Seattle Police Department reports and include traffic violations only.

Some of the areas where SPD made the most traffic stops in recent months include:

  • Admiral area of West Seattle
  • Green Lake
  • The International District
  • Rainier Beach
  • Eastlake
  • Lake City
  • Lower Queen Anne
  • Freelard
  • South Beacon Hill
  • Central District’s south end
  • Downtown core
  • Industrial Area and Georgetown
  • First Hill
  • Sodo
  • Hillman City and Brighton neighborhood
  • North Seattle College area
  • South Park
  • Northwestern West Seattle
  • Pike-Pine area on Capitol Hill
  • Mount Baker area

The article notes how many traffic stops each of these areas have seen in recent months, with Mount Baker by far seeing the most stops. It also provides more detail about the locations where significant traffic stops occur. Be aware of these heavily monitored areas and be safe!

Our Traffic Ticket Services:

If you do receive a traffic ticket, be wise and consult our experienced traffic attorneys before paying it. Our traffic attorneys work aggressively, efficiently, and creatively to defend each unique ticket. It is almost always worth it to fight your ticket and to do whatever you can to keep it off your record. Even ONE traffic ticket on your driving record can potentially increase insurance premiums for 3 years! Whether you receive a speeding ticket, reckless driving, or another moving violation, we are prepared to fight your case. It is our goal to protect your driving record, insurance rates, privilege to drive, and in some cases even your job.

The first step in beating your traffic ticket is to contact our practice. Please contact our traffic attorneys at Dellino Law Group today for a Free Consultation.

Distracted driving laws may toughen significantly – Put down the phone!

Lawmakers in Washington state are aiming to increase safety on the streets and decrease traffic fatalities in 2017.

The Seattle Times presented an article this week describing a bill in the works, tentatively named the “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act”. The bill seeks to expand upon existing law and prohibit almost all use of handheld devices by drivers.

Current law:

Distracted driving refers to activity that disrupts a driver’s focus. Cell phone activity distracts a driver’s attention and thus endangers the driver, their passengers, other drivers and passengers on the road, and pedestrian bystanders.

Washington’s current cell phone laws came into effect in 2008 and 2010. Formerly, drivers could only be ticketed for texting while driving if it was a secondary offense. However, under the new laws if police see you holding your phone or texting while driving, they can pull you over and issue a ticket for the offense.

Violations of cell phone and texting laws carry a $124 fine for a first-time offense. This could be significantly more if you are involved with causing a collision.

Cell Phone Law:

  • Washington State’s Cell Phone Law(RCW 46.61.667) states you may not use a wireless communications device or hand-held mobile telephone while driving. Drivers must use hands-free devices.
  • Drivers with Instruction Permits(RCW 46.20.055) or Intermediate Licenses (RCW 46.20.075) cannot use any wireless communication device while driving, even if it is hands-free, unless in an emergency situation.

Texting Law:

  • Washington State’s Text Messaging Law(RCW 46.61.668) prohibits sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving.

Exceptions:

  • If operating an authorized emergency vehicle or a tow truck responding to a disabled vehicle
  • Using a hands-free device including a speakerphone, blue tooth, or headset
  • Reporting illegal activity or calling for medical or emergency help
  • Using a hearing aid

The Seattle Times article reiterates that Washington’s laws are almost a decade old. Texting and holding a cellphone to the ear are banned. However, when these laws were created the popularity and wide usage of certain apps was not in existence. The article cites Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook Live as examples of cell phone apps that may divert a driver’s attention for just a few seconds, which is all it takes to cause a fatal accident. It can be as dangerous as driving drunk.

The National Safety Council reports that traffic fatalities in the U.S. caused by distracted driving increased 9% from 2014 to 2015, and Washington state is no exception to the “deadly epidemic.”

Lawmakers are feeling optimistic about their chances of success in passing a bill to toughen distracted driving laws, despite past failed attempts. There is a lot of support and increased public awareness. Families of victims of distracted driving traffic fatalities will likely testify in support of the bill.

Some of the changes lawmakers hope to see include increasing the current $124 fine to $350 for using handheld devices, as well as having these citations reported to insurance companies and courts. They hope to see drivers deterred by stiffer penalties. They also seek to ban use of cell phone apps while driving. Hands-free communication would continue to be legal, but drivers would not be able to pick up their phones and scan their Facebook feed, look at Instagram, or post a tweet or status update. The specifics of the bill are still in discussion.

The news article also discusses habits of drivers, limitations of the distracted brain, and the challenge of changing human behavior.

We urge you to drive responsibly, focus on the road, and prioritize the safety of yourself and those around you. No social media update, text, or phone call are as important as your life.

Tips for Traffic Safety & Avoiding Traffic Tickets during Thanksgiving Weekend

It is a short work week for many. People are anxious to get to their Thanksgiving destinations to enjoy turkey and pumpkin pie with their loved ones. For a large number of festivity goers, this involves travel.

Travel is up overall this year, with one million more Americans expected to travel this Thanksgiving than last year, according to AAA’s travel forecast. 9 in 10 travelers will forgo crowded airports and long lines in favor of automobile travel. AAA projects that 43.5 million travelers will be on the road, which would be the most since 2005.

Driving can be convenient and less costly than air travel, but it can also be quite stressful. Drivers have traffic, weather conditions, and fellow holiday travelers to contend with.

Be mindful of your actions and aware of how to maximize your own safety and that of those around you. Holiday events and celebrations can be invaluable times for family and friends to get together. However, these celebrations can quickly turn into tragedy when people are killed or injured in accidents. Traffic citations, DUI charges, and other driving-related offenses can also put a damper on holiday festivities.

Dellino Law Group wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving and cautions safety on the road. Please see our 10 tips for staying safe during holiday driving:

  • Don’t drink and driveIf there will be drinking at your holiday get-together, choose a designated driver who will remain alcohol free.
  • Make sure the car is readyBe sure your vehicle is properly maintained, in good shape for travel, and ready for winter driving conditions.
  • Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of projected weather conditions.
  • Buckle upEnsure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
  • Avoid fatigueGet a good night sleep the night before, take regular breaks, and share the driving if possible. If you are tired, pull off the road to a rest area.
  • Have an emergency planHave a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
  • Do not text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone. See our prior blog post for details about cell phone and texting while driving laws in Washington State.
  • Keep a safe following distanceallowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don’t try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
  • Watch your speedDrive to the conditions and don’t drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
  • Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don’t drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.

Labor Day weekend is projected to see a high number of traffic fatalities. Please review our safe driving tips!

As Labor Day weekend symbolically brings summer to an end, there will be many people on the road heading out for one last summer getaway. The long weekend means heavy traffic statewide.

King 5 News reports an increase in traffic deaths nationwide in 2016. Washington state is no exception, with traffic fatalities up 8% in the first half of the year from the same period in 2015. Given these alarming statistics, King 5 News projects that if the trend continues, this could be the country’s deadliest Labor Day driving weekend since 2008.

King 5 cites more statistics, including numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. These numbers were derived from the National Safety Council. Please see the article for details. Speculation about why the increase in traffic fatalities includes a number of ideas. Distracted driving and lower gas prices putting more drivers on the road are among the theories.

Washington State hopes to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injury collisions by 2030, under the Target Zero Plan. Our prior blog post describes Seattle’s Vision Zero plan, which is a portion of the statewide effort. These latest trends, however, unfortunately show things moving in the wrong direction.

Safety Tips:

Dellino Law Group wishes you an enjoyable Labor Day weekend and urges you to drive safely. Please use these tips to maximize the safety of yourself and your passengers, and to decrease the stress of driving this holiday weekend.

  • Don’t drink and drive. Labor Day weekend is notorious for BBQs and parties, where alcohol is a common part of the equation. As everyone is out celebrating this weekend, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver. Keep yourself and those around you safe.
  • Make sure the car is properly maintained and in good shape for travel.
  • Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of alternate routes.
  • Buckle upEnsure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
  • Avoid fatigueGet a good night sleep the night before, take regular breaks, and share the driving if possible. If you are tired, pull off the road to a rest area.
  • Have an emergency planHave a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
  • Do not text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone. See our prior blog post for details about cell phone and texting while driving laws in Washington State.
  • Keep a safe following distanceallowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don’t try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
  • Watch your speed. Drive to the conditions and don’t drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
  • Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don’t drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.

 

A Reminder about Red-Light Cameras…

The Seattle Times printed an article this week reporting that traffic deaths are up in cities where they have turned off red-light cameras.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined cities that have ended their red-light camera programs over the past 5 years, compared with cities that have continued their programs. Research showed that crashes involving running red-lights went up 30% in areas that removed their red-light cameras.

Fatal crashes involving running red-lights were compared between cities with camera programs and cities without them. Findings showed a rate of fatal crashes that was 21% lower in cities with camera programs. The results of these studies suggest getting rid of the cameras could have deadly consequences.

The research is aimed at demonstrating to the public that the red-light cameras are intended to promote safety and not just collect fines. There is certainly controversy around this, especially when red-light cameras are placed in intersections where there is no data to illustrate the need for them. In those cases, AAA has been among the opponents of red-light cameras.

Camera tickets have been on the rise with more and more traffic cameras installed around the greater Seattle area last year. This includes Red Light Traffic Cameras and School Zone Safety Cameras. Our prior blog post describes some of the critiques of red-light cameras. For example, camera fines are set and don’t account for how far over the speed limit the driver is driving. Sophisticated cameras will catch drivers going even one mile per hour over the speed limit passing a school when yellow lights are flashing. The fine will be the same for the driver going 1 mph over the limit as they are for the driver going 15 mph over the limit.

Our prior post touched on how the camera ticketing process works, with equipment and methods capturing corresponding images of the vehicle in violation and the vehicle license plate. The citation is then sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Washington law prohibits taking images of the faces of drivers or occupants, so photos and videos show the rear of the vehicle only. Pictures and video are available to vehicle owners, police, and court personnel (online).

The registered owner of the vehicle in violation has 18 days from when it is issued to respond to the citation. Options for response including requesting a hearing, signing a declaration that the owner was not driving the vehicle, or paying the fine.

Non-camera violations operate differently. Since the citation is written directly to the driver, signing a declaration is not an option. Speed scales exist for non-camera violations, with fines being variable based on how far over the speed limit the driver is going.

If you receive a traffic citation, camera or non-camera, consider contacting our experienced traffic attorneys. Many people quickly choose to pay their tickets without understanding the numerous reasons to fight them.  Some citations will impact your insurance rates while others will not. The best way to know how to proceed is to speak with a knowledgeable traffic attorney. Our traffic infraction defense team can advise you accordingly.  If you choose to fight your ticket, our traffic attorneys have extensive experience and an excellent success rate.  Our goals are to protect your record, your insurance rates, and your privilege to drive. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation.

Drive Safely! Memorial Day weekend is expected to see record numbers of drivers on the road

Memorial Day weekend symbolically kicks off summer festivities and many people are looking to kick off their summer festivities with a road trip. AAA projects that more than 38 million Americans are expected to travel this weekend, making it the second highest travel volume on a Memorial Day weekend, and the most in over a decade. AAA estimates a 2.1% increase in holiday travelers who are driving to their destinations this weekend, prompted by the low gas prices, which are at their lowest since 2005. Air travel is expected to increase by 1.6%, but the number of travelers using other modes of transportation (cruises, buses, trains) are expected to decline, with most drivers preferring road travel.

Heavy traffic and anxious drivers out in droves are inevitable, making this a worthy time to remind you of our simple tips for staying safe during holiday driving. Use these tips to maximize the safety of yourself and your passengers, and to decrease the stress of driving this Memorial Day weekend.

Dellino Law Group wishes you an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and urges you to drive safely.

  • Don’t drink and drive.Memorial Day weekend is notorious for BBQs and parties, where alcohol is a common part of the equation. As everyone is out celebrating this weekend, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver. Keep yourself and those around you safe.
  • Make sure the car is ready.Be sure your vehicle is properly maintained, in good shape for travel.
  • Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of alternate routes.
  • Buckle upEnsure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
  • Avoid fatigueGet a good night sleep the night before, take regular breaks, and share the driving if possible. If you are tired, pull off the road to a rest area.
  • Have an emergency planHave a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
  • Do not text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone. See our prior blog post for details about cell phone and texting while driving laws in Washington State.
  • Keep a safe following distanceallowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don’t try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
  • Watch your speed.Drive to the conditions and don’t drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
  • Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don’t drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.

 

 

 

 

 

Watch your speed! I-90 speed limit is not increasing to 75 mph

I-90 drivers will need to continue to watch their speeds, after the rejection of a proposal to increase the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph.

The Seattle Times reports that the state decided last week they will not raise the speed limit along rural sections of I-90 in Eastern Washington, as was proposed. The Washington State Dept of Transportation, Washington State Patrol, and Washington Traffic Safety Commission were involved in reviewing this proposal, which requested the increase along ~100 miles of highway, from George to the Lincoln/Spokane County line. A law reportedly passed in 2015 that would allow for an increase, if it was deemed safe, so Eastern Washington legislators requested the proposal be reviewed by the above-mentioned agencies. The proposal was rejected due to safety concerns. The agencies performed an analysis that predicted an increase of 1.27 fatal or serious crashes each year if the speed limit were raised to 75 mph, as well as an increase in $8.3 million additional safety expenses annually. They determined these sacrifices were not work the time savings for drivers, since the top priority is safety.

Washington State hopes to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injury collisions by 2030, under the Target Zero Plan. Our prior blog post describes Seattle’s Vision Zero plan, which is a portion of the statewide effort.  The state’s traffic safety agencies are committed to making decisions that support this goal

More than ever, it is essential that drivers be aware of the rules of the road. All around Washington State, there are increased efforts to promote safety, which in addition to potentially saving lives puts traffic law violators at increased risk of being stopped!

Our Traffic Ticket Services:

If you do receive a traffic ticket, be wise and consult our experienced traffic attorneys before paying it. Our traffic attorneys work aggressively, efficiently, and creatively to defend each unique ticket. It is almost always worth it to fight your ticket and to do whatever you can to keep it off your record. Even ONE traffic ticket on your driving record can potentially increase insurance premiums for 3 years! Whether you receive a speeding ticket, reckless driving, or another moving violation, we are prepared to fight your case. It is our goal to protect your driving record, insurance rates, privilege to drive, and in some cases even your job.

The first step in beating your traffic ticket is to contact our practice. Please contact our traffic attorneys at Dellino Law Group today for a Free Consultation.

Texters Beware: The ‘Textalyzer’ may be coming soon to detect texting and driving

Texting while driving remains a commonplace and dangerous practice. The New York Times suggests it is actually getting worse with drivers not only texting, but taking selfies and using other apps and social media sites while on the road. The article estimates road fatalities were up 8% from 2014-2015 due to the increase in distracted driving.

Concern is growing as the problem rises, despite laws in place in most states to ban cell phone use and texting by drivers, and efforts by public service campaigns to increase awareness for this issue. The New York Times article describes lawmakers’ and public health experts’ new plans to conquer this widespread issue. They are getting creative and looking at ways to deter drivers from texting while driving.

One idea that is getting significant attention is a roadside test called the “Textalyzer”, introduced by lobbyists from New York. The New York Times article describes that the Textalyzer, the digital sister of the Breathalyzer, would be used by officers at the scene of a crash to tap into the operating system of the involved drivers’ phones to look at recent activity. The goal would be to determine if the driver had been using their phone to engage in activity against the New York hands-free driving laws, such as text, email, etc. It would determine if the phone was recently in use. If a driver refused to hand over their phone to be analyzed by the Textalyzer, they could face drivers’ license suspension or other penalties.

The article acknowledges that this proposed legislation is controversial, in terms of becoming law, and faces privacy concerns and other potential obstacles. The argument is that the Textalyzer would show whether phones were recently in use without revealing private information, such as the content of text messages, etc. However, many will find this hard to believe and/or still a significant breach of privacy. The future of the Textalyzer remains to be seen, but it is certainly catching people’s attention!

The legislation was proposed by a group of lobbyists known as DORCs, Distracted Operators Risk Casualties with the goals of raising awareness significantly around the dangerousness of distracted driving, actually deterring people from engaging in the practice, and ultimately saving lives. The thought is that if this legislation does pass in New York it could easily spread to other states, similar to the way New York paved the way for hands-free laws in other nationwide.

Please see our recent blog posting about distracted driving:  April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Our post highlights Washington State’s existing laws around cell phone use and texting while driving.  Pledge to make a commitment to be part of the effort to end distracted driving, in order to protect the lives of ourselves and the people around us. One text or call could wreck it all!

Contact Dellino Law Group

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