Pivotal Law Group

Toll Free 866-884-2417
Español 866-802-9832

The Pivotal Law Blog

Legislative Update: Tougher distracted driving law goes into effect July of this year

Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

DrivingOn July 23, 2017, Washington’s new distracted-driving law goes into effect. The Legislature had agreed to postpone its implementation to 2019, but Governor Jay Inslee vetoed that compromise provision. As a result, drivers have just a few weeks to familiarize themselves with these new rules.

Currently, drivers are prohibited from “holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear,” as well as sending, reading, or writing a text message, while driving.

The new law is much broader, and prohibits nearly all uses of handheld electronic devices while driving. Note: driving includes not only when the vehicle is moving but also when temporarily stopped, such as at a stop sign, traffic light, or in traffic. It does not include times when the driver has pulled off the roadway where the vehicle “can safely remain stationary.”

The new distracted-driving law defines “personal electronic device” as “any portable electronic device that is capable of wireless communication or electronic data retrieval,” unless the device is “manufactured primarily for hands-free use in a motor vehicle.” It includes devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, two-way messaging devices, and electronic games, but this list is not exclusive.

The prohibited “uses” include: - Holding a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands; - Using your hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data; and - Watching videos.

The law does allow for “the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device.” It also does not prohibit using such a device if it is to contact emergency services.

Any person who violates this law is guilty of a traffic infraction subject to a $136 fine. This is a primary offense, meaning the police can pull someone over just for committing this infraction. In the event of a second infraction, the fine increases to $235. Distracted-driving citations will also be reported on a motorist’s driving record, which can affect a driver’s insurance rates.

Additionally, the new law makes it a traffic infraction to “drive dangerously distracted,” which is defined as “engag[ing] in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.” This could include activities such as grooming or eating while driving. Driving dangerously distracted is a secondary offense, meaning it is not enforced unless the driver is detained for a suspected violation of a separate infraction.

Violation of this secondary infraction is subject to a $30 fine, which will go into a distracted driving prevention account to be used to support programs “dedicated to reducing distracted driving and improving driver education on distracted driving.”

This law makes great strides towards modernizing Washington law to address how changes in technology have affected people’s behavior on the road.

Photo credit: April10 033, used under the Creative Commons license.

Permalink to this entry

Swedish neurosurgeons double-booked surgeries

Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

XRayWhen having surgery, patients have many questions for their doctors. One question most patients probably don’t ask is: Will you be in the operating room during the entire procedure? Now, news from Swedish health suggests patients should add this question to their ever-growing list.

In recent years, some of Swedish’s top brain and spine surgeons routinely ran multiple operating rooms at the same time while keeping patients in the dark about the practice, according to internal surgery data obtained by The Seattle Times as well as interviews with patients and medical staffers.

Four surgeons at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute — [Rod] Oskouian, David Newell, Johnny Delashaw and Jens Chapman — ran multiple operating rooms during more than half their cases over the past three years, according to the data. Oskouian did it 70 percent of the time. To manage two rooms, surgeons generally leave less-experienced doctors receiving specialized training to handle parts of the surgery.

Between 2014 and 2016, there were more than 200 instances when surgeons began two cases at the same time or within five minutes of each other. When doctors ran multiple operating rooms, they typically overlapped their cases for more than an hour, according to the data. More than 700 of the surgeries were entirely eclipsed by other cases the attending surgeon was handling.

Most patients interviewed by the Seattle Times said they had never heard or considered this double-booking might occur, and would not have consented to surgery had they known.

Click here for a link to the full article or see the link below:


Permalink to this entry

Seattle ordinance confirms it's OK to to record police officers

Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Christopher L. Thayer

PolicePeople often ask the question whether it’s legal for the public to record police activity. On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted to codify that right into the Seattle Municipal Code.

The First Amendment can offer protections to members of the public when they watch and record police. And a Seattle Police Department policy adopted in 2008 says bystanders may remain nearby and record the incident as long as they don’t interfere.

So, people already were allowed to watch and record police in Seattle. But the council’s vote means the rights of police observers are now recognized in city law.

The only exceptions are when an observer hinders, delays or compromises legitimate police activity, threatens someone’s safety or attempts to incite other people to violence.

Click here for a link to the full article or see the link below:


Photo credit: Watching Them Back, used under the Creative Commons license.

Permalink to this entry

Governor signs law allowing marjuana stores to give out lock boxes

Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

MarijuanaState law places strict limits on what marijuana stores can sell or give out. Soon, that list will see an increase.

Recently, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill allowing pot stores to give out small safes. The purpose of the bill is to stop children and animals from accidentally eating the marijuana.

House Bill 1250’s sponsor Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, said Mason County health officials have been pushing for the new law because they have a “large quantity” of small safes they’re planning to supply to the county’s marijuana shops.

The freebies are sparked by reports of children eating marijuana-infused foods when people don’t keep them secure, Griffey said. While perhaps not as serious as prescription drugs, he said, it can still result in emergency room trips.

The new law also allows shops to sell safes as long as they’re not making a profit.

Click here for a link to the full article or see the link below:


Permalink to this entry

Holding a cell phone while driving illegal in 2019

Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2017 by Pivotal Law Group

DrivingThe Washington legislature has passed its distracted driving measure, making it illegal to hold a phone while driving. It remains to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, which is expected to happen within the next few weeks.

“I am just thrilled that we have been able to forge a step forward on distracted driving,” Inslee said Thursday. “Pain and suffering and tragedy caused by this inattentiveness is very hard to bear.”

Under the measure passed this week, the standard traffic fine of $136 would apply to a first offense but would increase to about $235 for a second offense. The first distracted driving offense would also be reportable to insurance companies, which could raise rates like any other moving violation.

The law would go into effect in January 2019.

Click here for a link to the full article or see the link below:


Photo credit: driving while on cell phone, used under the Creative Commons license.

Permalink to this entry

Pivotal Law Group, PLLC Pivotal Law Group, PLLC
47.6084840 -122.3330190
of vital or central importance; crucial