Ask A Trooper: What Are the Laws About Talking on a Cellphone While Driving?

Washington State Patrol District 1 spokesperson and recruiter Guy Gill answers your questions about the rules of the road.

Q: What are the laws about talking on a cell phone while driving? And why is it OK for Troopers to talk on their cell phones without a headset, when I can't?

A: The law is, you cannot have a phone up to your ear—it has to be through a speaker or Bluetooth. There are some exceptions to that, however: if you’re hearing impaired, or reporting an emergency. If you're caught talking on your cell phone while driving, it's a primary offense.

If you’re a law enforcement officer on your cell phone, it usually means you’re summoning aide. In the State Patrol, we try to keep that to a minimum. If we’re talking on the phone, it’s a necessary task to perform our job.

It's the same with texting. I don’t do it when I drive, it's illegal.

Distracted driving in general is big cause of collisions. We see collisions when people are doing something inside their vehicle other than focusing on driving--using an iPod or iPad, changing a CD or radio station... eating. Whatever keeps you from doing your task is considered distracted driving and against the law.


Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter. 

What have you always wanted to ask a state patrol officer? Tell us in the comments.

dexterjibs February 14, 2013 at 05:56 AM
Now Federica, why the hateful rhetoric? Hateful rhetoric never fed a starving child. But I know I fed a starving child when I was driving and talking on my cell phone ordering a pizza. And I got home safely, hung up the phone and fed my face too.
Federico Nava February 15, 2013 at 02:20 AM
Dipster, you're truly an artist!
dexterjibs February 15, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Federico, you have a great day! It was fun.
stephanie February 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM
stacia, you stop talking on your cell phone or you get a ticket. try fighting it in court. you will lose if you go in with, "well i see officers talking on their cells while driving all the time." it's not gonna get you out of a ticket. didn't your parents ever tell you "do as I say, not as I do"? same thing. stop taking on your phone while driving bc it's the law.
Owen Applequist February 26, 2013 at 07:53 AM
So if officers are able to use their phone while driving for official business does that mean they have received training or education on how to do so safely?


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