More answers about the new distracted-driving law, including whether it applies to bicyclists

Can bicyclists be cited for driving under the influence of electronics? Is it OK to make a call when you’re waiting for an open drawbridge to close? We have the answers.

More than a half-million readers have already looked at our stories this year about Washington state’s new distracted-driving law.

Yet the requests for clear information, and quibbles about new scenarios, keep rolling In.

To recap:

• Nonemergency use of a handheld electronic device is illegal while operating a motor vehicle, and can result in a $136 traffic ticket that goes on your insurance record. Devices must be mounted in a cradle or built-in, and require “minimal use of a finger” to open the app. Watching any video is illegal.

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• Other distractions are a “secondary offense” and can add a $99 fine if an officer tickets you for some primary violation, such as speeding or drifting out of your lane. These distractions are undefined but examples including applying makeup or shaving, holding a pet, or fumbling with a sandwich.

Such distractions only become a ticket if they lead to dangerous driving. So, if you’re pulled over for expired tabs or a busted taillight, you would not get a ticket for eating a sandwich while driving. If, on the other hand, you’re pulled over for swerving erratically or speeding the officer can give you a ticket for eating a sandwich, if that helped lead to the dangerous driving.

• In a state that runs on caffeine, it’s still legal to drink coffee — or other nonalcoholic drinks — and drive. That wouldn’t lead to a citation unless someone fumbles or spills the cup in a way that causes a traffic violation.

With that in mind, here a few more questions and answers:

Q. Can bicyclists be ticketed for electronic distractions?

A. Yes, the law covers them, said Shelly Baldwin, government liaison for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which helped draft the law. Under the Revised Code of Washington 46.61.755, bicyclists who use the roads generally have the same rights and duties as drivers.

Whether riders get fined for driving under the influence of electronics (DUI-E) remains to be seen — on occasion, Seattle police do ticket bicyclists for speeding and red-light running.

Q. What if I call my family while waiting for an open drawbridge to close?

A. The law defines “driving” to include being “temporarily stationary,”…

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