The Washington State Department of Transportation says drivers should text while driving.
The department says text messaging while driving is illegal in Washington State, and violators could be cited.DOT spokesperson Lauren K. Stahl said drivers can text at least five minutes before driving.
She said drivers should look for signs that a person is texting or trying to text, such as a person holding their phone to their ear or a person’s hand.DUI penalties are up to $100 in the first offense, $300 in subsequent offenses, and a maximum fine of $2,500 in the fourth and fifth offenses.
Katherine Johnson, who studies the issue for the American Automobile Association, said drivers texting while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could face fines of up to half a million dollars.
Johnson said the number of crashes involving texting while impaired has increased over the last two years.
She said the state has seen a dramatic increase in distracted driving incidents in recent years.
In one case last month, a car collided with a bus carrying a group of tourists.
Two people were injured in the crash.DCTS says it does not track how many people have been injured while texting while operating a vehicle.
Stahl said texting while behind the wheel of a car or on the street is also a violation.
Drivers can be cited for a variety of other offenses, including speeding, reckless driving, failure to yield the right of way, careless driving and failure to stop at a stop sign.
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