As of January 1, 2021, holding a cellphone or any other electronic communication device while driving became illegal. This includes talking. If you want to talk while driving, you must use a handsfree device. If you’re using your phone as a GPS, it needs to be propped up, not in your hands.
Primary and Secondary Offenses
In traffic law, there are two kinds of offenses, primary and secondary. A primary offense is one where the police may pull you over. Reckless driving, for example, is a primary offense. Police cannot stop your car for a secondary offense. A broken taillight, for example, is a secondary offense. For an officer to cite you on a secondary offense, they must already have pulled you over for something else.
Using a cellphone while driving is a primary offense. When officers see one in your hand, they can stop your car.
Using your phone while driving is an expensive offense, and the fines grow with more charges. Your first offense is a traffic violation and a fee of $125. Further offenses cost $250 each. If you are pulled over for using a cellphone in a highway work zone, the minimum fine is $250, even if it is your first offense. Virginia also adds points to your license, at least 3 per offense.
There are exceptions that allow you to use a phone while driving. You may use your phone for an emergency or when reporting an accident or a crime. Even in those cases, you would be wise to avoid texting and use the phone only to talk. Drivers operating emergency vehicles may talk on their phones during an incident as well. Truckers may still use their CB or HAM radios at any time. Virginia also allows cellphone use when you are parked or fully stopped by the road. Finally, Department of Transportation workers may still operate vehicles while using their cellphones.
You have the right to be defended in court for a traffic violation. If you’ve been accused of operating an electronic device while driving, call today at (540) 827-4446, or contact me online.