Texting Drivers Now Get a DUI in WA. Who’s Complaining?

man angry about driving while textingIt’s as reliable as the movement of the heavens. Up to now, whenever a news item announced an anti-drunk driving measure in Washington State, people jumped immediately onto the comments section to change the subject.

“Drunk driving? What about all the people out there driving while texting?”

“This won’t do anything. Everyone’s driving while texting anyway!”

“For every drunk driver you see, there are fifteen who are putting on makeup, eating a pizza, texting, or talking on a cellphone…”

Now all those people will have to find another way to change the subject. Washington State has officially made distracted driving the equivalent of drunk driving, by instituting the DUI-E law. The law makes it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving, unless it’s to call 911 in an emergency. Driving while texting is similarly verboten.

You can’t even pick up the phone at a stoplight.

It’s not only electronics that will garner a fine. If you’re combing your hair, smoking, doing your makeup, or eating a hoagie, and it affects your driving, you’ll be fined. The first offense is $136, the second $234.

It’s almost as if the legislators were reading the comments section and wanted to shut them up.

Distracted Driving: Not a Distraction

Don’t get us wrong – we don’t want to shut up those commenters. The E-DUI law is actually a very good move by Washington State. As many angry people like to point out, distracted driving is extremely dangerous, and it’s good to codify the danger into a law so that people have an explicit warning: if you’re eating, drinking, or grooming, and it makes your driving wonky, you will get a ticket. If you are seen holding a cellphone, you will be fined. The state has moved distracted driving out of the gray area and made it a full-fledged crime.

We’ll just point out that complaining about distracted driving whenever someone discusses drunk driving does not help solve the problem of drunk driving. What does is good enforcement, public awareness and education, and well-managed ignition interlock programs.

Eventually, someone will invent a device that works like an ignition interlock – which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – for cellphones. A lot of work is being done in that direction, and some car manufacturers are on board.

Meanwhile, now that texting has its own DUI, what will people in Washington State be complaining about on the Web? How will they change the subject? Watch the comments section and find out.