Texting while driving
Washington State’s new distracted driving law kicks in from July 23. In this photo, cars drive by a sign notifying of a new texting while driving law on Interstate 280 in San Francisco, California, Dec. 29, 2008. Getty Images

Tech lovers in Washington State might be paying their nose if they do not take the new distracted driving law seriously which kicks in from Sunday. Under the new law, Driving Under The Influence Of Electronics (DUI-E), a driver who gets caught using a phone or any other electronic device while in the driver's seat, even while not driving, will be fined $136 for the first offense and $235 for every time thereafter.

The new law is a robust version of the previous law, which just prohibited texting or holding a phone to your ear. It was planned to come into effect from 2019, but that part of the bill was vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee upon signing, reports said.

The Washington State Patrol will allow a six-month grace period to drivers during which the violators will be issued warnings and handed educational cards. This will give residents time to learn about the new law, Q13 Fox News reported.

Read: Texting And Driving Can Kill You, Warn US Highway Officials As Fatalities Soar

“In the end, for us, it’s all about compliance. We want people to be safe on the road, we don’t want to issue tickets,” Seattle Times reported citing State Patrol spokesman Kyle Moore.

Apart from cell phones, the use of tablets, video-games and laptops is also forbidden; texting, accessing information, taking pictures and talking even when the vehicle is stopped in traffic is prohibited under the DUI-E Act. "'Hands-free' devices such as mounted dashboard screens and Bluetooth can be used legally, but only with a single touch to start use," according to the website of Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL).

According to the new law, common built-in-electronics, including hands-free phones, satellite music and maps, are legal, the Seattle Times reported citing officials. Drivers may even turn on a smartphone that is mounted on a dashboard cradle for navigating apps or for a voice-activated call or music streaming, however there should be “minimal use of a finger.”

Police will use their judgment for deciding on what is "minimal use of a finger." State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson, a spokesman based in Bellevue, according to the Times, said: "The idea is for you to activate your phone with one touch, so you don’t have to look away from your windshield to dial 10 numbers, to make a phone call." Feeding address in your GPS while you are in traffic, which is a common human behavior, will be treated as a violation by many troopers, Johnson said.

Read: How Texting While Walking Is The Worst

Distracted driving led to 3,477 traffic deaths in 2015, which was a 9 percent increase from 2014, and “a deadly epidemic,” according to the National Safety Council. Around 71 percent of distracted drivers have been engaged in the most dangerous form of distraction caused by cell phone-usage behind the wheel, DOL stated citing the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

At the same time, the new law does have some exceptions, including "using a personal electronic device to contact emergency services; certain transit employees and commercial drivers (within the scope of their employment) and drivers operating authorized emergency vehicles."