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Holding your phone while driving is now illegal in Virginia

Posted at 11:34 AM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 12:08:51-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A law prohibiting holding a phone while driving in the state of Virginia took effect Friday, the first day of 2021.

The law allows police to pull a driver over for having a phone in their hand and give them a $125 ticket on the first offense, $250 on the second.

Breaking the law in a highway work zone was punishable by a mandatory $250 fine.

"People tend to overestimate how much they can multi-task,” said Emily, a Richmond native who spoke with CBS 6 while walking along Broad Street Friday morning. “I mean driving down the highway on I-95, you can see people looking at their phones. Which is scary because they’re going 70, 75 miles per hour.”

According to Drive Smart Virginia, 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes involved driver distraction within three seconds of the crash.

For Emily, driving hands-free was already a habit. A law banning holding a cell phone behind the wheel already took effect in the city of Richmond in June.

“That was one of the priorities when I bought a car last year,” she said. “I typically plug my phone in first thing and get my GPS set up before i start moving.”

Exceptions to the law include drivers who are lawfully stopped or parked and drivers of Emergency or Department of Transportation vehicles who are performing official duties.