DUI & DWIClients’ ChoiceAward 2012-2018

DUI-E Is Now In Effect

DUI-E Is Now In Effect

Driving under the influence of electronics — a new law that pertains to cell phone use in the car. Listen as Jonathan and Dillon breakdown and explain how this new law effects us.  


Episode Transcript

Dillon
Heads up, as of midnight the law in Washington state has changed, well a law has gone into effect essentially. Today is the day. We've got several things to cover this morning and joining us right now local DUI defense attorney Jonathan Rands in studio this morning. July 23rd, it's a big day for, this is what I think is a bunch of baloney about. They're calling it DUIE. Driving under the influence of electronics. We've talked about this a while back on the show when this law was passed, and now it goes into effect today. So explain what's going on with this.

Jonathan
Baloney?

Dillon
Well, that's the radio safe version.

Jonathan
Yeah, good morning. Thanks for having me again.

Dillon
Not that I don't, by the way not that I don't believe in being smart and being safe on the road and I, it's not like I think talking and driving and texting all at the same time is a good idea, but I am of the opinion that calling it a DUI is a little bit off target here.

Jonathan
Funny you mention the word target.

Dillon
No pun intended. We'll get to that.

Jonathan
I agree. I dislike it, the approach to education more than anything. I'm all for education. I think that there's a lot of information out there that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that distracted driving is not optimal driving. I mean but it's a fact of life. First of all the law is called, is being toted as DUIE, meaning electronics, which is not the case. It's a cell phone law. Because it doesn't ban the use of all electronics. And if you really want to keep in keeping with the title of the bill, you would think that the title would give you an idea of what it's criminalizing, right?

So DUI electronics you think to yourself, oh anything electronic, but that's not the case.

Dillon
No, devil's advocate here, it's saying it's outlawing driving under the influence of electronics.

Jonathan
Yeah but when you look at the statute as to what it's not criminalizing, it's an infraction remember, what it's speaking to is cell phone use. It is a cell phone use law. It is a cell phone holding law more than even use because if you read the statute ...

Dillon
Does it not apply to tablets?

Jonathan
No.

Dillon
Really? You could hold a tablet, and this is a new question that people have been asking for a few years now, when does it go from being a phone to being a tablet? And there's the fablet in between and does that count? You really could hold a tablet to your ear let's say as a phone and that would be legit?

Jonathan
Well very similar to your CB analogy two or three weeks ago. Remember when we tore the law apart and we were talking about how if you plugged a CB into your iPhone or your android phone?

Dillon
Yeah, cause you can get the little plugin deals that make your phone work like a CB.

Jonathan
That was not prescribed by the law. Which is why the title of the law bothers me. Because we're by calling it DUIE we are trivializing I think DUI, which is a gross misdemeanor, criminal offense punishable by mandatory jail time, one, day two days, 30, 45 days depending on sequences and seriousness. And yet we're calling a traffic infraction to try and make people aware and to try and keep people from holding cell phones DUIE. And that just bothers me because ...

Dillon
But wouldn't the people, the proponents of this say that driving and texting, for instance, is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol?

Jonathan
Then make it a crime, don't make it a traffic infraction. Talk about it in the terms of the seriousness of what you're trying to eradicate. You're trying to eradicate distracted driving. You're trying to make people aware of the law on distracted driving through a civil infraction. So I mean this is a point that I don't think a lot of people necessarily appreciate. We talk about laws, generically speaking and this is a new law. But the seriousness of the behavior that is being prohibited is dictated by the type of law. So we have criminal law, which is for bad stuff, right? Murder, DUI, assault.

Dillon
Is that the official legal ease?

Jonathan
Bad stuff?

Dillon
It's for bad stuff.

Jonathan
Just for bad stuff.

Dillon
A lawyer who speaks normal language people, he's here in studio with us right now, Jonathan Rands.

Jonathan
It's for really bad stuff. The traffic infractions are for bad stuff.

Dillon
There's bad stuff and then there's really bad stuff.

Jonathan
Right, so a traffic infraction is not using your signal. Speeding, speeding too fast for conditions, going to fast in a school zone, passing in a school zone, not having current tabs on your license plate, not having your headlights on, not turning into the proper lane, so I think you get the picture in terms of a traffic infraction are the things that we get pulled over for and we feel bad about it and you get a fine. So the traffic infraction, the most you can be [inaudible 00:05:35] they are not crimes meaning you cannot be punished by going to jail if the infraction is found committed.

Dillon
Losing parts of your liberty essentially is what a crime, you've phrased it in those terms before if you are incarcerated ...

Jonathan
That's a loss of liberty.

Dillon
Yeah.

Jonathan
It's a loss of, more serious crimes, felonies, it's a loss of civil rights. That is the punishment that flows from a crime. From a civil traffic infraction or a civil infraction of any sorts, you know there are noise ordinances in the city of Bellingham where if you have a party that's too loud and you get a noise complaint, you get a ticket for that. You get a civil infraction.

Dillon
But you aren't going to go to jail for that.

Jonathan
You're not going to go to jail. Same as the new cell phone law. It is a first and I'm going to use the word committed, and not use the word offense because it's not a criminal offense, it's an infraction and infractions are found committed, you're not found guilty of anything in infractions. And so to delineate the difference between the two is very very important. Yes, I get it. I understand why we're doing a traffic infraction for this distracted driving is statistically and scientifically proven to be not as good if you will as regular driving. Just like speeding too fast for conditions, or just speeding. The legislature, the government, our representatives have determined that you should only go fast, this fast on this road. They've also determined that holding a cell phone or cell phone use is something bad enough that we need to make it a civil infraction and punish a person if committed upon paying a fine I think it's $135 for the first one and the second offense I think it goes up to $200.

But if that's the response that I think is why we need to discuss it appropriately and not elevate it to this new level of DUI. I even saw an ad the other day for talking about this calling it target zero. Which really really made me upset because target zero for the last, I don't know close to a decade now, I mean it's a term for DUI. That Washington State Patrol and the Washington traffic safety organization has determined that by, I think it's 2025 or something, their emphasis for DUI or their catching a DUI or arrest for DUI will be zero on a particular date, and it's always been that way. And now we're calling a new cell phone law a DUIE and we're referencing it as target zero. Which again, it does a complete disservice to the severity if you will of the companion charges you're comparing it to. I cut you off though, you were going to ask me something.

Dillon
I'm just looking at the target zero website but I think they have expanded it beyond DUI now. Zero, zero zero zero's repeated like a million times on this site. The goal of every Washington State citizen should be zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads and highways. The personal, financial, societal laws for every person killed or injured in traffic crashes is enormous. That's why Washington State is a top, I'm skipping a little bit here, has adopted target zero, a goal to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington's roadways to zero by the year 2030.

Jonathan
So ...

Dillon
Maybe they are trying to pull more things under that banner of target zero, I think you're right though because that was the starting point of it was DUI.

Jonathan
What's the first time you've ever heard target zero? It's always with DUI. And sure if you're expanding it I understand they're expanding it, but look how they're expanding it. Look what they're relating it to. I mean the only thing that comes to mind, and maybe it's just a function of what I do and what I exist in. I hear target zero, that's all I hear. It's DUI related. But even if you're trying to expand it, you're doing it on the backs, on the back sorry, of something that everybody is aware of and again, it blurs the line if you want to do what the goal is that's fine. But call it what it is. Talk about it for what it is and not what you want to sensationalize it to be so that you get the word out there. The goal of zero deaths is a lofty one. I don't think that their opening statement and line there is untrue. I think the goal should be from every citizen's perspective that we have safe roadways. But driving is dangerous. We're engaged in behaviors all day long every day that we assume a lot of risk on.

And just because your goal is to do this, it may be a great goal but I think it's unrealistic. Is it realistic to avoid traffic deaths for certain reasons? Absolutely.

Dillon
That's what bugged me about this from the get-go because obviously nobody wants to see anyone ever be hurt, one doesn't even I don't want anybody to get a scrape on their arm. That would be fine with me, but is that realistic? No, I would like, for no one to ever have to die on Washington roadways ever again. But it's going to happen. It doesn't matter what advertising campaign is.

Jonathan
Yeah and we have come to a generation if you will of drivers now that I think are more safe than we were, certainly more safe than our parents were, because of the construction and the research of cars. I see these things on Facebook all the time that says you know like if you remember, and the last one I saw was it was a station wagon, it was the back of a station wagon, the door was wide open and it says if you remember sitting backwards in this station wagon, and then it said with no seatbelts.

Dillon
In the back of the station wagon, can you imagine getting rear ended with some kids?

Jonathan
They've done a bunch of tests on that right? Where they do the crash test dummies and everybody comes piling out of the back through that window and that research, that type of design that's been eliminated, that's the kind of stuff that's ultimately making us safe. Yes it's going to be safer if people engage in less risky behavior while driving, but you are never ever going to ...

Dillon
Well I think attainable goals are better than unattainable goals.

Jonathan
Right.

Dillon
I mean we could get into leadership and what they tell you about life planning and all this kind of stuff, this is one of these, don't set yourself a goal that will never actually be reached because then what's the point. The goal I think here should be continued improvement in safety on the roadways like we're all ready seeing. Let's continue that, let's set a target for reducing that number, but zero? No.

Jonathan
And what I also find interesting is I think one of the impetus for the laws, we're in a day and age now where I forget what the statistic is but almost, there's almost nobody out there over the age of I don't know 13 that doesn't have a cell phone. And so we, it's a little bit of a, I'm going to do air quotes, it's a little bit of a nanny state law to try and legislate everything away. And we've touched on this before, if you think about it, there are more things out there than just a cell phone that are distracting for driving. And before we had cell phones prevalent like we do right now, there are the things that people complained about endlessly. I remember sitting in traffic and listening to DJ's talk about seeing somebody on the way to work or one gentleman was shaving, he was changing a CD with one hand and presumably steering with his knee ...

Dillon
Reading the newspaper. Doing makeup.

Jonathan
I was a long haul truck driver, my dad was a long haul truck driver and when I was with him I went across the states a couple of summers in a row. I saw a ton of stuff from up a little bit higher.

Dillon
Yeah, truckers see everything.

Jonathan
I was eight, nine, 10 years old and so that was 1980, mid 80's. I saw one lady driving down one of the interstates, she had a paperback holding it with her thumbs on either side of her steering wheel driving down there. So we can do almost anything in our cars that is not smart and not safe.

Dillon
Well and technically all of that is all ready illegal under distracted driving. Same thing with phones, same thing with texting, that's all distracted driving. So if you could be found doing that, you're in trouble, right?

Jonathan
Yeah, and then of course the point I pointed out last time we talked about this when it first was signed if you will, keep in mind this was something that was set to take effect I think two years down the road, it was fast tracked by the governor and signed into law for today rather than let people get used to it. And so there's just no companion to it but ultimately, how do you enforce holding it? My wife just recently bought some clips for the air vents on her car and she, because she's like it's coming into effect right now and she's like I'm terrible at it. I'm like okay well you're going to clip it to your dash, which is legal. You can look at it.

Dillon
Clip your phone.

Jonathan
Yeah which is legal, or you can suction to the window or something like that. But why is that any different than having it in your hand? I mean if you're focused on it.

Dillon
It could be worse, in some cases.

Jonathan
I consider myself ...

Dillon
But be careful what you wish for because some people are advocating for technology that would jam all cell phones inside a car anywhere whatsoever and you have to basically put them in the trunk.

Jonathan
With your alcohol.

Dillon
Yeah, exactly. Jonathan Rands, local DUI attorney in studio. We should, we've got to take a quick break but we should when we come back talk about, since today is the day when this comes into effect, the specific rules. Now that people will have to follow. Because I think people don't realize. I mean you do not even touch, not even I mean they may even be able to scan whether you're thinking about your cell phone as they drive by. We'll talk about what all the rules are that are effective today with regards to DUIE driving under the influence of electronics as they call it. Which I believe to be a bit of a misnomer but it's the new cell phone laws that started today at midnight.

Jonathan Rands local DUI attorney offices down in Fairhaven, (360) 306-8136 is the phone number where you can reach him. (360) 306-8136, his website is jrandslaw.com and I would certainly encourage you to check that out. Again jrandslaw.com rands is spelled R-A-N-D-S very simply, we'll be back in a moment.

Dillon
Okay so it took effect today, and technically at midnight it started, we've been talking about this this half hour here on the legal doc it's the new cell phone law here in Washington state. Somebody actually mentioned to me last month oh yeah, it's all ready in effect haven't you heard? And I thought wait a second I don't think that, and I had double checked and no it was going to be today, 23rd of July when this thing actually starts. Jonathan Rands in studio with us, local DUI attorney, calling it DUI but really it's a cell phone law, it doesn't criminalize it which DUI is a criminal thing. What does it actually do now Jonathan? This is what I want to do before we run out of time since we're talking about this starting today, what do people need to keep in mind when they're behind the wheel?

Jonathan
All right so, revised code of Washington 46.61.667 the title of it is using a wireless communication device or handheld mobile telephone while driving. Okay so I'm going to correct myself. The title of the statute is in fact describing what follows, but usurping the title by calling it DUIE is who I have a problem with and here's how the law reads, and is written. Except as provided in subsections two and three of this section so we'll get to those in a moment, a person operating a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communication device to his or her ears guilty of a traffic infraction. Okay we get that, right? That's actually talk ...

Dillon
And that's what it has been, right?

Jonathan
Right. Except as provided in sub section two and three a person driving a commercial motor vehicle as defined, including while temporary stationary because of traffic. A traffic control device or other momentary delays while using a handheld mobile telephone is also guilty of a traffic infraction. For purposes of this subsection driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle with or without the motor running while the driver has moved the vehicle of the side of or off the highway and is stopped in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary. Okay so that speaks specifically to commercials, commercial motor vehicles. Sub section two says, sub section one of this section, so we're now talking about earlier exceptions, does not apply to a person operating an authorized emergency vehicle or a tow truck responding to a disabled vehicle. A moving motor vehicle using a wireless communication device in hands free mode so you'e got blue tooth connections and things of that nature, a moving motor vehicle using a hand held wireless communication device to report illegal activity, summon medical or other emergency help, prevent injury to a person or property, relay information that is time sensitive between a transit for hire operator and that operator's dispatcher which the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle or a moving motor vehicle while using a hearing aid.

A moving motor vehicle while using a hearing aid, is broken into more sections does not apply to commercial motor vehicles when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or emergency vehicles. Using a mobile telephone in hands free mode. For purposes of this section hands free means that the wireless communication device with a speaker phone, headset, or ear piece, the statue pre empts the field of regulating the use of wireless communications devices and motor vehicles and this section supercedes any local laws, ordinants or other rules.

Dillon
So the way I understand it from what I've been told, you can't basically touch your phone at all, under the laws that take effect today.

Jonathan
Yes. So there's a new section that was written into that that takes effect today, I'm just trying to find it. And that is that driving while using a personal electronic device defined in this section which includes any activities. It prohibits driving while holding a personal electronic device in either or both hands and using a hand or finger for texting or an equivalent. So the laws that I just read before that doesn't get changed, but now they're talking about driving while using but they're now even referring to use as holding. And or touching. So it begs the question if you can keep your phone mounted on your dash or as I do I just throw it in my cup holder and I can see it. How do you actually talk if you can't touch it for a single finger dialing? Because touching the phone for it seems for texting purposes or voice control, yeah I guess there's that.

Dillon
Google call so and so.

Jonathan
Yeah, but we're incrementally here moving away from using the phone in any shape or form. Is it a good law? I'm not going to say it's good or bad. Is it designed to keep people from being distracted? Absolutely. Is that a good thing? Sure. Do I like the way that it's been toted? No. I'll get off my soap box.

Dillon
All right well we're out of time regardless. Jonathan Rand thanks for stopping by, thanks for filling us in here on this day when things become more stringent you watch, there are going to be a bunch of people who get busted on this and get tickets.

Jonathan
Oh one other thing as well, you know how there's some exceptions in there? What's probably going to happen is you're going to get a citation for it even though you were properly using it but then you're going to have to go to court and explain this is what I was doing and then it's going to be up to a judge.

Dillon
Gotta love that. Local DUI attorney Jonathan Rands again (360) 306-8136 is the phone number for his office, for his practice in Fairhaven. The website is jrandslaw.com. Jonathan have a great Sunday.

Jonathan
You as well thank you.


Call now for your free consultation (360) 306-8136

“Being charged with a DUI is scary and often makes you feel alone against the unknown. Jonathan made himself available after hours to have a 'consultation' of sorts, to meet with me and hear my story, at no cost or commitment.”
Amy
A DUI Client, via Avvo