New July Laws: Behind the Wheel

Jul 2, 2013

Texting-while-driving was already against the law, but now police have a new tool that will enable them to hand out more citations.

Supporters of the revised Virginia law hope that steep fines will deter drivers from taking their eyes off the road to read and send text messages.

Lawmakers overcame privacy concerns about police peering into vehicles as the evidence piled up about the growing number of deadly accidents due to texting. Bill sponsor Delegate Rich Anderson says now the law has some teeth.

“Number one, it confirms what existed before, and that is that texting while driving is illegal. Number two, it takes it from a secondary to a primary offense so that you can be stopped by a law enforcement officer solely for the act of texting and not in association with some other offense such as a tail light burned out or running a stop sign.”

But also illegal are manually entering multiple letters or text in the device to communicate AND reading emails or text messages.  The fines are $125  for a first offense and $250  after that.  Another new traffic safety law prohibits provisional, minor drivers in their first year of licensure from transporting more than one passenger who’s less than 21 years old. And a third new law requires moped drivers to carry government-issued photo IDs and wear helmets. Mopeds also must be titled and registered by July 1st of next year.