State lawmakers consider ban on jaywalking laws

OLYMPIA, Wash. — If you get caught jaywalking in the city of Seattle, the fine is $68.

But a new bill being considered by state lawmakers would ban jaywalking laws in every city across the state.

A hearing was held in Olympia on Wednesday regarding House Bill 1428. If passed, pedestrians could cross the roadway at any time unless “a reasonably careful person” would realize there’s an immediate danger of a collision with a vehicle or cyclist.

This includes when a red or yellow traffic signal or “Don’t Walk” signal is operating. However, the bill does require pedestrians to “exercise due care for their safety.”

“I’ve jaywalked; I imagine most people in this room have jaywalked, and yet regardless of who jaywalks, jaywalking laws are not equally enforced,” said Rep. Emily Alvarado, the bill’s primary sponsor, during Wednesday’s hearing. “The data shows that we enforce those laws disproportionately against people of color and people who are low-income.”

Alvarado cited a 2017 article from The Seattle Times that stated that over 25% of jaywalking citations were written to black people between 2010 and 2016. At that time, they represented only 7% of the city’s population.

If the bill is passed, Washington would join four other states which have already banned jaywalking laws – California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Virginia.