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What can you legally do on your phone while driving in Virginia?

By Josh Silverman on January 31, 2014


The starting point is that if you cause an accident while using your phone in any manner you can be ticketed for reckless driving.  However, you can't be stopped in Virginia simply for using the phone while driving assuming you are not breaking any other traffic laws.  Here's an overview on Virginia law as it stands today:

  • It is illegal to text and drive in Virginia.  If an officer sees you doing it, you can get pulled and ticketed.  You will accumulate points on your DMV record and your insurance will probably go up. If you already have an excessive amount of points your license may be suspended;
  • Unlike other states, it is legal in Virginia to talk on your cell phone while driving.  There is no requirement that you use a hands-free device right now.  I suspect in the coming years the law will change so stay tuned;
  • If you are weaving, driving very slowly, or in the wrong lane, etc., you are probably either intoxicated or on your cell phone.  How many times have you seen someone weaving at a slow speed and you think, I bet he or she is on the phone and when you get closer you are proven correct.  You don't have to be a detective to figure it out, but if you are a detective (or other officer) you can issue the driver a ticket for reckless driving or a variety of other traffic offenses;
  • If you are in an accident while legally using your cell phone, it can still be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit to prove that you were not paying proper attention to the road, that you were driving recklessly, etc.  There's a good chance the lawyer for the injured person will subpoena your cell phone records. I know this from personal experience representing victims of automobile accidents in Virginia.

The best advise is to use common sense.  How important is that phone call or text?  99.99% of the time it can wait, so don't put yourself or others at risk.

Be safe everyone.

Best,

Josh Silverman

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