Senate Votes to Expand Ban on Smartphone Use Behind the Wheel - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Senate Votes to Expand Ban on Smartphone Use Behind the Wheel

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 OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The Washington Senate has voted to extend the state's ban on cellphone use while driving to cover the range of functions a smartphone can now serve.

In a 35-14 vote Tuesday, Senators sent to the House a bill that would update legislation written in 2008 that bans hand-held phone calls and texting while driving. Since then, mobile platforms for Facebook, Twitter and a plethora of other social networking and video game uses have gained millions of users. Under existing law, they're legal for drivers to use while behind the wheel, despite being distracting.

The bill passed by the Senate would make it a $209 ticket for a driver to hold, read from, or enter data into a cellphone by hand if a car is on the road, including while stopped at a traffic light. After the first offense, later tickets would affect insurance rates.

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