MASON COUNTY — The state’s new distracted driving law has been in effect for just over a month and tickets for the offense have been showing up in Mason County Magistrate Court.
Though there are no figures for just how many tickets have been written in Mason County, it appears the new law is being taken seriously by local law enforcement personnel.
“We’re absolutely writing tickets,” Mason County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Dave Downing said.”If you have your phone in your hand, whether texting or talking, it’s a primary offense.”
A primary offense means if law enforcement catches someone using their phone while driving without a hands free device, that person can be pulled over for that offense alone. The new law officially went into effect on July 1.
According to Mason County Magistrate Court, fines for being ticketed for using a cell phone or electronic device while driving without a hands free device are $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $300 for the third offense. There are no court costs associated with this violation.
Not only does the law apply to cell phones but devices described as a personal digital assistant, electronic device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.
The law exempts voice radios, mobile radios, land mobile radios, commercial mobile radios or two way radios with the capability to transmit and receive voice transmissions utilizing a push-to-talk or press-to-transmit function; or other voice radios used by a law-enforcement officer, an emergency services provider, an employee or agent of public safety organizations, first responders, Amateur Radio Operators (HAM) licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and school bus operators.
Also excluded from this law are a law-enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a paramedic or the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle in the performance of their official duties, a person using an electronic communication device to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard, or a medical or hazardous materials emergencies, the activation or deactivation of hands-free equipment or a function of hands free equipment.