First-time offenders will pay $136, and each ticket within five years after that will cost $234. Those totals, like other traffic fines, include fees for various programs, ranging from trauma care to vehicle-theft prevention.
Get a ticket for the first time under Washington’s new law banning phones while driving, and you’ll pay a $136 fine.
Caught again within five years and you’ll fork over another $234 each ticket.
Consider the statistics on distracted driving — 10 percent of drivers are reportedly using phones — and that could mean a sizable chunk of new money moving through court systems across Washington.
But exactly where is the money going?
Here’s a breakdown, according to the law that takes effect Sunday.
Like other traffic offenses, each distracted-driving infraction includes a base penalty for the violation; $48 of the $136 for the first offense and $96 of the $234 for subsequent tickets.
Cities or counties get a portion of that money, depending on which law-enforcement agency issued the ticket. For instance, if an officer in Seattle’s traffic division writes a citation, half of the base penalty will funnel into Seattle’s general fund.
Washington State Patrol troopers, sheriff’s deputies and local departments will monitor for distracted driving.
On top of that, each ticket includes a fine for what’s called a “public safety and education assessment,” which the Office of the State Treasurer will feed into the state’s general fund, regardless of where a driver is pulled over.
That category accounts for $51 of the $136 for first-time violators and $101 of the $234 for repeat offenders.
The following surcharges are the same, no matter if it’s your first distracted-driving offense or not. They are included in all types of traffic infractions in Washington.
The state treasurer will collect and disburse:
• A $10 fee for the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority, a governor-appointed group that dishes out money to different public agencies statewide to curb vehicle thefts.
• A $5 fee for an account that’s dedicated to the state’s trauma-care system and helps cover rehabilitation and emergency medical services across the state.
• A $2 fee for the state’s traumatic-brain-injury account, which state officials with the Department of Social and Health Services administer.
Money in that account funds a public-awareness campaign “about the issues facing individuals with traumatic brain injuries” and programs that aid patients and their families, among related initiatives.
Also, under the new law, miscellaneous distractions behind the wheel, such as eating or grooming, are secondary offenses.
That means an officer can issue a $99 ticket — which includes a $30 base penalty, $32 for the state general fund and the other standard fees — if he or she pulls you over for some other roadway violation first.
Beyond the ticket fees, officials will report distracted-driving citations on a driver’s record for use by insurance companies.
So, if your record has other violations, you could face rate increases.
When the law formally takes effect Sunday, some law-enforcement agencies plan to give drivers a grace period before giving out tickets. Others will issue fines immediately.