Washington distracted-driving law has drivers wondering if they can still drink coffee on the road

The confusion comes from a section of the law that treats non-electronic distractions as a secondary offense Specific distractions are undefined, but lawmakers and officials have mentioned eating or drinking, applying mascara, reading a book, or having a dog on your lap.

Fellow travelers, let’s get something straight.

It remains legal in Washington state to drink coffee and drive.

Just make sure to stay in your lane.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

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Many people are understandably confused about the new distracted-driving law that took effect Sunday.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

Learn more about Traffic Lab »

All nonemergency use of a handheld device, and all watching of video even in dash-mounted devices, is a primary traffic offense, meaning police can pull you over and write a $136 ticket. Drivers are allowed to initiate apps with the “minimal use of a finger” for devices in a dashboard cradle or those built into the car.

Some…

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