Illegal to Text While Driving in Virginia
It is becoming harder to track where it is legal and illegal to use a hand-held cell phone and to send and receive texts and emails as the laws of each state vary. In Virginia, it is still legal to use a hand-held cell phone to make calls, but it is illegal to use them to make or read texts or emails while driving. There are limited exceptions. For example you can look at them to check the call ID before answering a call and you can lawfully use them while driving to report an emergency. You can also use the device when your car is not in motion.
Violations of this law is considered a secondary offense. In other words a police officer can not stop you just for violating this law. The officer must have another reason to lawfully stop you. The penalties are relatively minor. The first offense is a $20 fine and each subsequent offense is a $50 fine. A good argument could be made that due to the dangers of texting while driving the penalties should be enhanced significantly.
However, if you are injured by a driver who was distracted due to texting or talking on the cell phone you may use it against the driver in a personal injury claim for money damages. A driver of a motor vehicle is liable for accidents caused by not paying proper attention to the roadway. There are ample studies showing that talking on a cell phone is distracting. We've all seen with our own eyes the driver on his cell phone struggling to stay in his lane, driving well under the speed limit, and otherwise simply not paying attention. As the Allstate commercial suggests, the less we use our cell phones while driving the safer we all are.
If you are injured by a driver distracted by his or her cell phone, please contact us to discuss your legal rights.