WSP hands out hundreds of tickets for cellphone violations

The Washington State Patrol issued nearly 670 citations in the first 20 days of Washington’s new law on texting and cellphones.

The State Patrol cracked down on cellphone and texting on June 10, when violations moved from secondary to primary offenses. That means officers had reason enough to stop and cite a driver they see texting or holding a cellphone to their ear.

Officials with the State Patrol said the agency did not give the motoring public a formal grace period, as it typically does with new laws, because the basic behavior of driving while using hand-held wireless devices has already been illegal for two years.

Statewide, there were 633 cellphone violations, and 34 for texting. King County led with the most cellphone violations, with 129.

A total of 104 cellphone citations and 101 warnings were given in District 7, which spans from Snohomish County to the Canadian border and includes Island, San Juan, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. State troopers in District 7 also issued four tickets for texting while driving.

State Patrol officials note that troopers still have discretion to issue warnings.

According to figures released last week, nearly 500 warnings were issued during the period between June 20 and July 1.

Road safety led to the call for stricter rules on the road.

Between 2006 and 2008, more than 3,000 drivers in Washington were involved in collisions while using hand-held wireless devices.

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