Distracted Driving Cell Phone Pixabay

Starting Friday, holding a cell phone while you drive becomes an enforceable offense in Virginia.

The total-ban bill became law July 1, but Gov. Ralph Northam delayed its enforcement until Jan. 1, 2021 in order to educate the public about the new rules. Texting and emailing while driving are both already against the law in Virginia.

Violating the ban is considered a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of $125 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. If a violation occurs in a highway work zone, there is a mandatory $250 fine.

Exceptions include first responders on duty; anyone parked or stopped (yes, that includes stoplights); anyone reporting an emergency; amateur or citizens-band radio users; and Virginia Department of Transportation safety service patrol drivers and traffic incident management crews.

Virginia joins Maryland and D.C. in banning all use of handheld electronic devices while driving. Maryland's law went into effect in 2013 and D.C. passed its ban back in 2004.

In 2018, 15% of all fatal crashes in Virginia were distraction-related, with Prince William County leading the state for distracted-driving fatalities, followed by Fairfax, Fauquier and Stafford counties, according to DRIVE SMART Virginia, a non-profit driver safety organization.  Fairfax County topped the list for total distracted driving crashes with injuries, with Prince William County second.

Under the new law, you can still talk on your cell phone when you’re driving, but must use hands-free technology. Drivers pulled over under the new law won’t have to hand their device over to police. What you’re doing on your cell phone is irrelevant, police say, it’s the act of holding while driving that’s illegal.

For more information about the ban, see phonedown.org.

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(5) comments

Soily

Based on recent headlines in InsideNova I am sure this new law is designed for police to target people of color for harassment. The saftey issue, just like in jaywalking and driving with a defective taillight, are just fake fronts.

tman

Let's see if they enforce it any better than loud exhaust. Put down your phones and drive.

covid2021

When are they going to address the discrimination of the window tint laws. Clearly a certain population like to tint windows. If they are able to tint windows they can more easily conceal themselves holding on their phone, so this presents an issue with correcting the clear discrimination in that law.

Iwouldntgiveabean

Which part of the population are you attributing this behavior towards?

Dont be scared. Say whats on your mind.

Hoodbridge_Resident

This is long overdue. 10 out of 10 cars I pass on the on the highways and rural streets that are either driving in 5mph under or swerving are on their phones. It's infuriating for drivers like me and completely irresponsible for drivers like them.

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