Local drivers use cell phones illegally, two years after law change

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by HONORA SWANSON & KREM.com

NWCN.com

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 12:48 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- On the roads, drivers can almost always catch someone else using their cell phones.

Local deputies say they consistently catch drivers break the law, ever two years after it went into effect.

Police hear all types of excuses, but for collision investigator Cpl. Jeffrey Welton, there’s never a good enough reason to break the law. He’s seen too many wrecks ending in serious injuries to let distracted driving slide.

“You’re doing a bunch of things already. For some people, adding the extra task of putting your phone to their ear-- that’s it. All of a sudden, they can’t stay in their lanes. They have trouble turning. Those are issues,” he said.

In 2010, Washington State made it illegal for people to hold a phone to their ears while driving, but there are still legal ways to talk. Drivers can hold phones in front of their faces, dial a call while driving and put the phone to their ears at a stop, or use them in parking lots.

Still, Spokane Co. deputies doled out more than 500 tickets this year.

While Welton says cell phone enforcement seems to be on the rise, his personal focus goes beyond that.

“Unless we’re doing an actual emphasis patrol strictly on cell phones, I don’t’ drive around like this and stare at cell phones all day. A lot of [the time], I’m looking for the aggressive behavior or the speeding.”

Welton says people can take an argument to court if they feel the deputy didn’t correctly see what they were doing. The ruling is made at the judge’s discretion.

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