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Virginia to Move Forward with More Thorough Texting Ban

Posted at February 14, 2013 » By : » Categories : Blog » 0 Comment

The Virginia General Assembly has passed legislation to make the state’s existing driving-while-texting ban a primary offense and to substantially raise penalties for offenses.

The Senate bill on this issue states:

Driving while texting; primary offense; increased penalties.

Provides that driving while texting is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $250 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $500. The current penalties are $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense. The bill also increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if the person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense. The bill also changes the offense from a secondary offense (one that can only be charged when the offender is stopped for another, separate offense) to a primary offense. The bill also increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if the person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense. The bill incorporates SB 1160 and SB 1238.

The House bill on this issue states:

Driving while texting; primary offense; increased penalties.

Provides that driving while texting is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $250 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $500. The current penalties are $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense. The bill also increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if the person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense. The bill also changes the offense from a secondary offense (one that can only be charged when the offender is stopped for another, separate offense) to a primary offense. The bill also increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if the person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense. The bill incorporates HB 1357, HB 1360,HB 1495, HB1540, HB 1848, and HB 1883.

If the texting ban becomes a primary offense, law enforcement officers would no longer need to witness a different offense, such as speeding, to pull over the driver for a citation. Driving while texting is now a secondary offense in the state.

In addition, the bills seek to raise the fine for a first-time offense from the existing $20 to $250, and the fine for a second or subsequent offense from $50 to $500.

A driver convicted of reckless driving would also face a $500 mandatory minimum fine if he or she was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense.

 

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