Christine Gregoire has signed a bill to outlaw devices that can change some
traffic signals from red to green from as far away as 1,500 feet.
changers are designed to allow police, fire and other emergency officials to
clear intersections before they approach. But some drivers have managed to
purchase them on the Internet for less than a few hundred dollars.
new law, previously HB1113, passed unanimously in the state House and Senate.
intended to deter anyone other than public safety and transit agencies from
possessing, selling or owning so-called mobile infrared transmitters, or MIRTs.
person caught using, selling or buying a device would face a fine of up to
$5,000 and/or jail time of up to one year. Someone simply caught with a device
would face a $1,000 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail. If the devices’ use
causes an accident, violators would face a $10,000 fine and/or five years in
prison; if someone were killed, a violator could receive a $20,000 fine and/or
10 years in prison.
devices, which sit on a vehicle’s dash, are not regulated by current federal
standards because they rely on a beam of light instead of a radio wave to
trigger the light-changing mechanisms that have been attached to some
a signal changer on a traffic light detects an approaching emergency vehicle
equipped with the device, the light responds accordingly. If the light is red,
the signal changer will immediately give vehicles in other directions a yellow
light, followed by a red light. The emergency vehicle will get a green light
until it passes through the intersection.
light-changing mechanisms have been in use at intersections since the early