Upon further investigation, it seems that the invalid cell phone tickets that have been the subject of many news headlines over the last 48 hours, may not be isolated to just certain municipalities like Mountlake Terrace. In reality, it seems that pretty much every municipality other than Seattle, may have been handing out the tickets without proper authority. When the first cell phone law went into affect in 2008, the Washington State Department of Transportation should have updated it’s rule book, thus allowing police to issue the citations. However, they never took the steps to do so and the Model Traffic Ordinance hasn’t been updated since 2004.
We first reported this slip-up regarding invalid distracted driving tickets yesterday. It’s important to keep in mind that if you were issued your ticket by a Washington State Trooper, you’re not off the hook since they did have the authority to enforce the law. According to Tony Sermonti from the Department of Licensing in this article, “We want people to contact the court that the tickets were issued in. That’s where those decisions are going to be made about what will happen with those tickets.”
As a Tacoma personal injury lawyer, I’m relieved to see that some areas such as Bremerton are dismissing pending tickets and refunding those that were already paid for. In Olympia, some violators “paid” for their infraction by completing community service hours and it is not yet clear how those cases will be handled.