Troopers issue 667 citations under phone and texting ban

July 2, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 2:20 p.m. July 2, 2010

Washington State Patrol troopers issued almost 670 citations for mobile phone or texting violations between June 10 — the day a statewide ban went into effect — and Thursday.

In King County, troopers issued 129 violations for mobile phone use and another 13 for texting. The infractions carry a $124 fine.

The law switched last month to make phone use and texting while driving primary offenses. Before the change, law enforcement officers could only cite drivers for phone use if the driver had been speeding or breaking another law. The state patrol did not offer a grace period after the updated law went into effect. The earlier phone ban went into effect in 2008.

During June and July 2009, troopers issued 110 phone and texting citations statewide. Between June 10 and Thursday, however, troopers issued 667 citations. Troopers also issued 471 warnings during the same period.

The number grew the next day, after State Patrol Chief John Batiste cited a driver near Joint Base Lewis McChord.

“The fellow was just driving along talking on his phone,” Batiste said in a news release. “He was fully aware of the law and had no excuses.”

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