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Nearly 30,000 sign petition against Washington’s new distracted driving law

TACOMA -- At least 28,000 people have decided that a Washington state law against distracted driving takes enforcement too far.

The News Tribune reported Tuesday that a petition to ban the law had gathered nearly 30,000 signatures just three days after it went into effect.

The law bans the use of handheld devices, including cellphones and tablets while driving. But it also allows officers to issue additional tickets if the driver is pulled over for using a handheld device. Those additional $99 tickets can be issued for behaviors such as eating, drinking or grooming while driving.

Many people who signed the petition wrote that they are unwilling to give up eating or drinking while driving.

The Washington State Patrol has said troopers are not yet writing tickets, but rather giving warnings while people learn about the new law.

Troopers also say you cannot get pulled over just for taking a sip of water:

"The bottom line is you can’t get pulled over for these things alone. You can only be cited for these secondary offenses if they interfere with safe driving and are coupled with a primary offense. Example, you’re on your morning commute, take a sip of coffee, and continue on your way safely. There’s no problem. However, if you’re eating a hamburger with one hand, putting on mascara with the other, and traveling across all lanes. You’ll get pulled over and cited for lane travel which is a primary offense (a $136 ticket) and a dangerously distracted secondary offense (a $99 ticket)."