6 Driving Laws In Washington State That May Or May Not Be Illegal

Not all road laws and driving etiquette are black and white, particularly in Washington State, where certain driving behaviors forge a nebulous grey area. 


Driving Habits In Washington State That Might Be In The Grey Area Of The Law

You'd be surprised at how many normal things you do while driving might be illegal in Washington State.

That's why I'm here for you, to break it all down and see if these six habits point to you.

Here's an eye-opening look at six driving practices that might surprise you with their legality—or lack thereof.

1. Use of Hazard Lights in the Rain

Legal Verdict: Illegal, with a Word of Caution

Washington's stance on using hazard lights in the rain is an interesting one. Washington expressly prohibits the use of hazards while driving unless it's an emergency. Use your best judgment and only deploy hazard lights in an emergency.

2. Lane Splitting by Motorcyclists

Legal Verdict: Illegal, but Not a Bill is Pending To Change That

Lane splitting, the practice of a motorcycle riding between lanes of slow or stopped cars, is currently illegal in Washington. However, some motorcyclists still lane split, and a bill has been introduced to allow it but has failed in 2015 and 2017.

Dangerous Driving
Paul Vasarhelyi
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3. Using a cell phone at a Stoplight

Legal Verdict: Illegal

In Washington State, using a handheld device at a stoplight is currently illegal, under the notion that your vehicle must be legally stopped or parked.

4. Flashing Headlights to Warn of Speed Traps

Legal Verdict: Protected under Free Speech

Flashing headlights to warn fellow drivers of speed traps is a common practice, but is it legal? In Washington, it's illegal within a certain distance. Courts have consistently ruled that flashing headlights is a form of speech and that it's your right to communicate with other drivers. It's a fine line


5. Unmarked Car Pulling Over Speeders

Legal Verdict: Legally Sound, but Ethically Dubious

The use of unmarked cars by law enforcement to catch speeders is a controversial matter. While it is entirely legal for police to do so in Washington, it raises ethical questions about entrapment and fairness.

6. Eating or Drinking While Driving

Legal Verdict: Legally Permissible, but Exercising Caution is Wise

Eating or drinking behind the wheel is technically legal in Washington State, as long as it doesn't interfere with the safe operation of your vehicle. The line is thin; a quick sip of coffee or water is generally okay, but consuming a full meal could be considered distracted driving.

I hope these tips helped you even though I'm been guilty of doing a few of these bad driving habits myself.

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