Can You Legally Text at a Red Light?

Post On 06-07-2010

With Washington State’s new law on texting while driving and using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel, lots of questions are being brought up.  As a Seattle personal injury lawyer, I think people are looking for ways in which they can justify feeding into their cell phone habits still.  I came across this question in the Seattle PI in which they address the legality of using your cell phone to send a text message while you’re waiting at a red light.

As it stands, after June 10th, you will be able to be issued a citation for texting while driving, even if you’re stopped at a light.  Technically, the car’s engine is running and you are controlling the vehicle.  Just because you’re stopped at a light doesn’t mean you can suddenly have an open container of alcohol, even if you close it back up after the light turns green.  I would assume you aren’t likely to get pulled over unless you fail to start moving again once the light turns or if your car starts to roll forward while waiting.

Technically, under the new law, a police officer can give you one of the hefty $124 tickets for using your cell phone which is deemed to fall under the category of negligent driving or distracted driving.  If the officer feels that you can’t put down the cell phone and can endanger pedestrians and other drivers on the road, then you’ll probably get a ticket.  State Troopers are warning that there will be no grace period for this new law since drivers have had two years to adjust to the secondary cell phone offense law.

–Kirk Bernard