Cell Phone Use in Wash. State May Not Affect Auto Insurance

Apple iPhoneThere’s some good news for Washington state drivers who were wrongly ticketed recently for driving while using cell phones — getting nabbed for cell-phone use behind the wheel won’t drive up auto insurance rates, according to the state insurance commissioner.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler addressed the issue while discussing a recent law-enforcement snag that led to a number of voided infractions.  Some drivers were concerned that, although the ticket had been voided, it would still affect their insurance rates.

But Kreidler, in a recent post on his blog, assured drivers that such an infraction would not appear on a permanent driving record in the first place, ultimately meaning that auto insurance rates would not go up due to these wrongly issued tickets. He cited the law as stating:

“Infractions under this section shall not become part of the driver’s record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, a finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers.”

But the fact that a cell phone violation won’t directly affect premiums doesn’t mean that drivers should feel free to use cell phones while driving.

The commissioner went on to warn that if a cell phone distracts a driver enough to cause an accident, that circumstance could have an impact on auto insurance rates.

The Washington law that bans residents from talking while driving went into effect in July of this year. It was a Department of Licensing oversight in updating the traffic offense rulebook that resulted in mass refunds of fines collected for traffic citations, including the cell phone offense. The state may now have to compensate local governments to the tune of $400,000.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

No comments yet.

Comment on this article