While it's true that police can pull you over for holding a cellphone, activities like eating, drinking and grooming are considered secondary offenses. Those tickets cost $99.
More than 25,000 people have decided that a Washington state law against distracted driving takes enforcement too far, according to a new online petition.
But the petition is misleading in some ways.
The Olympian reported the Change.org petition on Tuesday, just a few days after the tougher distracted-driving law went into effect. By Wednesday morning, the petition had gathered thousands of signatures.
The petition, submitted by Angela Cruze, states, “The law can provide opportunity for police officers to pull a driver over when not just holding a cellphone but now you cannot eat or drink in your car while driving.”
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While it’s true that law enforcement can pull you over for holding a cellphone, activities like eating, drinking and grooming are considered secondary offenses. Officers can only ticket drivers for those actions if they are pulled over for something else, like reckless driving. Those tickets cost $99.
The petitioner does, toward the end of the description, acknowledge that tickets for eating and drinking can be given as a secondary offense, but fails to make clear that they can be given only as a secondary offense.
Many people who signed the petition wrote that they are unwilling to give up eating or drinking while driving. Some Washington State Patrol troopers, who are giving motorists a six-month grace period of warnings before issuing distracted-driving tickets, took to Twitter to inform people of the nuances of the law.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to put down your morning coffee.
What else can and cannot you do under the new law? Here’s our breakdown.