CHOKEPOINTS

Seattle senator appears to break multiple laws during live committee hearing

Apr 6, 2021, 11:08 AM | Updated: 3:52 pm

A Washington state senator was caught on TVW driving while distracted, before later apologizing publicly and admitting she “made the wrong choice.”

Seattle Democrat, Rebecca Saldana, who represents the 37th Legislative District, is the vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Saldana appeared to violate several traffic laws while participating in a live, online committee hearing.

Senator Saldana was clearly driving her car while answering a question from a fellow senator during Tuesday morning’s hearing on the Forward Washington package, an $18 billion, 16-year transportation plan. She even admitted to driving while answering the question, which was about a “just transition” to green energy.

“As we are moving into clean fuels, alternative fuels … it’s a cost,” Saldana said. “It’s a burden — I’m driving my old vehicle right now.”

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Seen on camera on the live video call, which violates the state’s distracted driving law. She also appeared to have both headphones in, which is a violation of another state law.

Senator Saldana released the following statement in response:

As a working mom, I face the same struggles many parents in Washington are facing, including trying to make my work schedule fit with my duties as a parent. Unfortunately I made a choice today that was not in compliance with the law and for that I apologize.

I agree we all need to become better drivers, and that includes myself. Placed in a difficult position today, I made the wrong choice in not disabling the automatic video function on my phone while driving and complying with my duties as vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. I sincerely regret having made this choice, and I do not condone distracted driving or the violation of our state’s traffic laws for any reason.

I have supported legislation about penalties for distracted driving, and like all drivers in Washington state, I must be subject and accountable to that law and all traffic laws.  Accordingly, if I receive a citation for this driving infraction, I will pay the fine.

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