Safety advocates and lawmakers say it's time to increase the fines for repeat offenders of Washington's ban on texting and talking while driving. (AP image)

Repeat talk, text ban offenders could face higher fines

Repeat offenders of Washington's ban on texting and talking while driving could be facing higher fines if some officials have their way in a bid for more federal funds.

Washington isn't currently eligible for a hefty grant from Congress for transportation funding because the state's penalty for talking and texting while driving doesn't increase for repeat offenders, The News Tribune reports.

But Jonna VanDyk with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission says it's time for the Legislature to change that.

"It could be a sizable Powerball for the state if we had the laws in place that would allow us to be able to access those funds," VanDyk tells the News Tribune.

Currently, someone caught texting or talking on the phone while driving pays a $124 fine, regardless of the number of offenses.

Sen. Tracey Eide, a Des Moines Democrat who led the effort to make texting or talking while driving a crime, agrees it's an issue that should be taken up in the next session.

"Maybe we'll increase the penalties," said Eide. "I think that's what the feds want us to do."

Eide says despite the laws, the Washington State Patrol still wrote more than 8,000 tickets and gave out 10,000 warnings last year alone.

Officials hope to qualify for funding to pay for a large-scale education campaign about texting laws and more targeted enforcement of the laws.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
Top Stories

  • Police Hackathon
    The Seattle Police Department is holding its first-ever "hackathon" with 35 tech experts

  • 'It Was My Turn'
    K.J. Wright has signed a $27 million, four-year extension with the Seahawks
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.