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Should police get a ‘Textalyzer’ to enforce Washington’s latest distracted driving laws?

Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign a distracted driving law that will make usage of smart devices by drivers illegal in almost every circumstance. (AP)

Governor Jay Inslee will sign a bill that updates our state’s distracted driving laws, which have been dangerously out of date, basically since the invention of the smartphone.

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Law enforcement officers will be able to issue a $136 distracted driving ticket even if they see you holding your phone, or tablet — or laptop, if you’re exceptionally careless — while behind the wheel. This goes for drivers stopped at a stop light.

Drivers will be allowed to use one finger to activate something, such as a GPS function. Everything else will be against the law.

So ask yourself, is it worth $136 to post something on Facebook or respond to a text?

For some people, the answer will still be “yes.” Because how can law enforcement possibly prove what someone has been doing with their phone?

How about by using a textalyzer? It’s like a breathalyzer, but rather than detecting alcohol in your blood, it detects fingers on your phone.

The idea is that after a crash, the cops can just plug in a device to find out if you were typing anything. It doesn’t detect what your were typing because what you typed doesn’t matter under the law. It determines whether or not you were using the device and failed to maintain control of the vehicle.

Currently, four states are looking at legalizing the technology: New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Illinois.

Inslee vetoed a section of the law that implemented it in 2019. Now, it will go into effect in July.

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