RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – More than 325 drivers have been cited for texting while driving by Virginia State Police troopers since Virginia’s new “texting while driving” law went into effect July 1.
This year is the first year police could pull over a driver they observed texting behind the wheel.
“Keep in mind that this data does not provide an exact account of the problem that exists concerning texting while driving on Virginia’s highways,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty wrote in a statement. “Depending on the observation of the investigating trooper, drivers can also be cited for reckless driving and, therefore, not included as a texting-while-driving violation. Regardless, texting while driving puts at risk the driver, passengers and every other motorist, motorcyclist, pedestrian and bicyclist sharing the roadway with that inattentive driver.”
Under the new law, troopers can stop drivers who text just like they can stop speeders or reckless drivers. [BONUS: Click here to sign the CBS 6 W82TEXT pledge]
“The trooper must observe the illegal conduct of the vehicle’s operator, thus providing the trooper with reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on that vehicle,” state police wrote in an email. “A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for the first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250.”
The law only kicks in while the vehicle is moving, so texting at a red light is still legal. It also does not apply to police and other first responders.