Person using smartphone while driving car almost hits a pedestrian

Cell Phone Laws & Washington Drivers

Smartphones are a wonderful technological advancement that provide instant access to information from nearly anywhere at nearly anytime. However, with all technological advancements, there are unintended consequences as a result.

Read on to learn more about Washington’s cell phone driving laws.

Distracted Driving

As defined by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, “Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road.”

In Washington state, it’s unlawful to hold your cell phone while driving. However, you are not legally barred from talking on the phone while driving altogether, as the following exceptions apply:

  • You may use a hands-free device that answers calls using a single touch or swipe of your finger
  • You may hold your cell phone if you are parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic
  • You may hold your cell phone if you are calling for emergency services

According to Captain Monica Alexander of the Washington State Patrol, studies show that using your cell phone for any reason while driving alters the way your brain functions and can narrow your vision. This phenomenon is called “inattention blindness.” The best way to prevent inattention blindness is by keeping your focus on the road at all times.

Washington state law does not allow you to use your phone while you’re in the driver’s seat, even if you’re stuck in traffic or stopped at a red light. While this may seem counterintuitive, studies show that some of the most horrific accidents occur at intersections and often involve pedestrians or other drivers who’ve run the red light.

If you need to use your phone for music or GPS purposes, you are permitted to do so, but only after setting it up prior to moving your vehicle. If you’re already driving and you need to do something on your phone that requires more than a single swipe or a tap, then you’ll need to pull over to a safe location to do so.


If you’re caught holding your phone while driving, you’ll receive a fine of up to $136. For your second violation within five years, you’ll be required to pay the court $234. In addition, your insurance company will be able to access this information and may decide to raise your rates in response.

We Can Help You

If you’ve been involved in an injury-sustaining accident as a result of someone else’s distracted driving, we’re here to help. Our skilled Kent personal injury attorney at Dore Law Group is highly experienced in these sorts of cases and can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t wait; contact our firm with your case right away.

Give our Kent personal injury attorney at Dore Law Group a call today at (253) 236-3888 to discuss your case.


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