On Monday, the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee jumped on the distracted driving bandwagon after many false starts, and agreed that texting and e-mailing while driving should be a primary offense. The vote (S.B. 219) was ten to four.
The law right now in Virginia is that motorists can only be pulled over while texting and driving if they are caught committing some other primary offense. The texting fine is $20 for the first offense, and $50 for the second offense.
Under the proposed law, police would be allowed to pull over Virginia drivers suspected of texting or e-mailing without any other evidence of wrongdoing. This bill has already passed the Senate Transportation Committee, and it must now go to the full Senate.
Democratic Senator George Barker, who propounded the bill, has been waging this battle for two years. Opponents believe that existing reckless driving laws are sufficient. Senator Barker is also proposing S.B. 210, which does the same thing as S.B. 219, but for provisional (new) drivers.
Also currently prohibited in Virginia is the use of cell phones or texting by drivers under the age of 18, and school bus drivers.
Our Virginia Auto Accident lawyers have seen first-hand the pain and destruction caused by distracted driving, including texting and cell phone use. The public belief that this is dangerous is so strong that many clients come to us firmly believing that the other driver was on the cell phone or texting at the time of the collision. Whether they are right or not can usually be proven by cell phone records, which our firm seeks in discovery. But the fact remains that we all know it is dangerous. We all need to take the pledge to put the cell phone down before starting the engine. It doesn't matter if it is illegal. It only matters that it is unsafe.
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