On December 5th, 2012, the Virginia State Commission on Crime will hear arguments and review facts to decide whether or not give it’s endorsement to a proposal to make texting while driving a part of Reckless Driving §46.2-852. States surrounding Virginia have already taken measures to make texting while driving a primary offense, that can result in $25 – $500 worth of fines. However, Virginia still only treats texting while driving as a secondary offense, which means it is only ticketed if it is committed while a primary act was observed as being comimtted at the same time.
Virginia statute § 46.2-1078.1 states that it is unlawful for a driver to manually enter multiple numbers or letters on a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle unless lawfully stopped alongside a road or in a parking lot. It is also illegal to read any sort of written communication on a handheld device while driving. The past fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2012, saw 511 texting while driving charges issued and 414 convictions. The Virginia Department of Transportation started gathering information this year on texting related accidents, provided from police issued accident reports. They found that 63 fatalities, injuries and crashes were due to the driver texting while driving, and a large number involved drivers between the ages of 21 to 30.
While the possible VSCC endorsement of tougher penalties for texting while driving does not mean any tougher laws will come to pass, a proposal backed by the VSCC carries a good deal of weight with state legislators.
If you or a loved one has been issued a citation for texting while driving, or have suffered an injury due to negligence of another driver, call The Gordon Law Firm for a free consultation at 703-218-8416 or toll-free at 1-800-591-NOVA.