Just how large is the cell phone use while driving epidemic? According to the Spokesman-Review, the Washington State Patrol has issued warnings to almost 4,800 motorists for DUI-E; driving under the influence of electronic devices like their cellphones. Starting in January, they won’t just be handing out warnings. Tickets will be issued that will cost $136 for the first offense and $234 for each subsequent offense.

Troopers have also issued 378 warnings for distracted driving for anything from eating to bending down to pick up something from the floor. These warnings went to drivers who were stopped for other traffic infractions such as speeding, changing lanes or weaving. Starting in January, those tickets will cost $99 on top of any fine for the primary offense.

The Legislature approved new traffic laws earlier this year in an attempt to cut down on drivers who use their cellphones or do other things that lead to dangerous situations. Originally the bill would have given drivers over a year to get used to the new laws, but Inslee vetoed that section, having the law to take effect in July. The State Patrol elected to give warnings for the first six months though.

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