Drivers are prohibited holding personal electronic devices or using your finger to interact with a device while driving, beyond one-touch activation of an app or function. Texting is banned for all drivers. Instruction permit and intermediate license holders are prohibited from using any wireless communication device while driving.
Drivers can be cited for driving dangerously by engaging in any activity not related to the actual operation of the motor vehicle, a secondary offense.
Wearing any headset or earphones connected to any electronic device capable of receiving a radio broadcast or playing a sound recording, in which the headset or earphones muffle or exclude other sounds, is not permitted while driving. Exempts motorcycle helmets with approved built-in headsets, and hands-free wireless communications systems.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (.08 BAC). All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.
Washington law specifies that drivers with 5 nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their whole blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence.
Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.
The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws. NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.
Washington requires the use of ignition interlocks for all impaired driving offenders.
Washington has an illegal per se limit for marijuana set at 5 ng/mL active THC.
Move Over Law
State law requires drivers to vacate the lane closest to stationary emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, if they are traveling in the same direction and it is safe to do so. If not, drivers are required to slow down and may not exceed the speed limit within 200 feet before and after a stationary emergency vehicle that has its flashing lights activated.
Seat belts or appropriate child safety seats are required for the driver and all passengers.
Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.
Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is permitted.
Child Passenger Safety
Seat belts or appropriate child safety seats are required for children under age 16.
An appropriate fitting child restraint system, installed in accordance with the instructions of the vehicle manufacturer and child restraint system, is required until a child is age 8, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller
Children under age 13 must be in the rear seat where it is practical to do so.
Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.
A driver must stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of a railroad under any of the following circumstances: when a clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a train; when a crossing gate is lowered or a human flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a train; or when an approaching train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to such crossing. The driver must not proceed until the crossing can be made safely.
No person may drive any vehicle through, around, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while the gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.
When a stop sign is erected at a railroad crossing, the driver of a vehicle must stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of the railroad and must proceed only upon exercising due care.
Upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, the driver of any other vehicle must stop before reaching the school bus if the bus has its flashing red lights activated or a stop sign extended. The driver must not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or visual signals are no longer activated. School districts may install and operate automated school bus safety cameras on school buses to be used for the detection of violations of this law.
The driver of a vehicle on a divided highway or on a highway with 3 or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus that is proceeding in the opposite direction.