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State police ticket over 500 drivers for texting

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Posted at 8:01 PM, Jan 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-30 20:01:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — State troopers have ticketed over 500 drivers since Virginia’s texting-while-driving ban became law in July.

In fact, from July 1 through Dec. 31, troopers charged 567 drivers for texting while driving. In October, state police said more than 325 drivers had been pulled over for texting while driving.

Violators can be fined $125 for their first offense. A second offense earns a $250 fine.

“According to preliminary data, driver distraction accounted for 20 percent of all fatal traffic crashes on Virginia’s roads in 2013. That accounts for 131 lives lost last year because of a driver failing to pay attention while behind the wheel of a vehicle,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty said in a statement.

This is the first year police could pull over a driver they observed texting behind the wheel. Under the 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]

However, 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.