18,000 Washington drivers contacted for distracted driving

SEATTLE (AP) — A state senator from Washington has apologized after she participated in a legislative video hearing while she drove a car to the Capitol.

The Seattle Times reports that Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, said her attempt to multitask Tuesday morning while driving to Olympia was “not in compliance with the law.”

The Legislature passed a distracted-driving law in 2017, following testimony by families of people killed in vehicle crashes. Washington state code forbids several behaviors, among them “watching video on a personal electronic device.”

Saldaña, vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, appeared on TVW’s livestream behind the wheel, with a virtual Capitol as background. She fielded a question about clean fuels.

Saldaña said she meant to disable the video and only use audio functions. She also wore lightweight ear buds; the law forbids earphones if they block outside sounds such as ambulances.

The standard citation fine is $136 for a first offense.

“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,” Saldaña said in a statement. “Accordingly, if I receive a citation for this driving infraction, I will pay the fine.”

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