SPOKANE, Wash. -It’s been three days since Washington drivers have been told to be completely hands-free behind the wheel, and already thousands want to make changes.
A petition on Change.org to rewrite the new DUI-E law has already gained more than 20,000 signatures.
The person behind the petition wants to change the section of the law that allows a secondary offense for anyone caught eating, drinking or grooming when they are pulled over for another traffic violation.
But not everyone is supporting the petition, including Sharon Horn.
“It’s not just cell phones and electronics that are causing these accidents and killing people,” said Horn. “If that drink or whatever you’re eating is more important than a persons life, the go ahead and sign that petition.”
A distracted driver killed Horn’s father, John Rains, last November.
“I walked out of the doors of my work and got a phone call from my mom,” said Horn. “And all she could say is daddy is gone, daddy is gone.”
Rains car was stopped on Highway 12 in Yakima County while he was waiting to turn in to his own driveway. That’s when a car slammed into the back of him.
“The first impact killed him instantly,” said Horn. “And it sent his car airborne into oncoming traffic.”
While the petition has gained thousands of signatures, the Washington Office of the Secretary of State says there is no method to make them count as a referenda or an initiative.
“While it does speak to the volume of people who are passionate about an issue, unfortunately it needs to be done according to the set laws in order to be official,” said Communication Director for the Office of the Secretary of State, Erich Ebel.
However, Ebel says the signatures on the Change.org petition shouldn’t be ignored. He says the petitioner could take them to local lawmakers and use them to convince lawmakers to take a second look at how the law is written.
Ebel says if an official petition gains 259,622 signatures by December 29th, lawmakers could consider making changes to the new DUI-E law. But the deadline to get the new law on the ballot is passed.
The petition says, "As a working citizen and many others who commute long hours of driving throughout the State of Washington, I feel eating, drinking, and or grooming should be a citizens right when behind the wheel and feel this law needs to have more of the people's response then having our elected officials make decisions without consent from the people."