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State omission invalidates Bremerton cell phone tickets

Eighty-three tickets issued to Bremerton drivers talking on their cell phones are now invalid, with paid fines being refunded, thanks to a snafu by the state, officials said last week.

The tickets were written in response to a new statewide law prohibiting talking and texting on the phone while driving as of June 10. But infractions between June 10 and July 1 are being dismissed, including some dating back to 2008 when using the phone while driving was a secondary offense.

Though the cell phone law was enforceable by state troopers and county sheriff’s deputies, city police departments, including Bremerton, did not have the authority to issue infractions due to an omission by the Department of Licensing, said Judge James Docter at the Bremerton Municipal Court. The law was not added to the state model traffic ordinance, a law passed in 1975 that allows any new traffic law to be adopted by cities without a separate approval.

The cell phone law has been in effect in Bremerton and the omitted cities statewide since July 1.

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