Starting January 1, 2021 Handheld Cell Phone Use Banned
According to the state’s legislative system, the bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2021. That means that in just 6 short months, all drivers in the commonwealth will be forbidden to text and talk on their handheld cell phones while driving.
Under House Bill 874, motorists who are caught holding a cell phone or certain types of personal communication devices while driving would face a $125 fine for the first offense, and a $250 fine for the second offense. The distracted driving legislation would levy a mandatory $250 fine for offenses in work zones.
A “highway work zone” is defined as a construction or maintenance area that is located on or next to a highway and marked by warning signs with flashing lights or other devices indicating that work is in progress.
Rutter Mills car accident lawyers are encouraged by this recent legislation that is aimed at making our highways safer. A staggering 8 out of 10 auto accidents in the commonwealth are attributed to distracted driving, and distraction was the cause of 120 deaths in the state last year.
Is Legislation Curbing Distracted Driving?
In 2009, the Virginia General Assembly passed a statute that punished texting and reading emails while driving as a traffic infraction. The law did little to reduce the rate of distracted driving or accidents caused by texting drivers.
Seventeen states already have laws banning handheld cell phone in place, and time will soon tell whether Virginia House Bill 874 has a measurable impact on distraction-related accidents.
Safety advocates are heartened by a recent study of between 20,000-25,000 drivers in Georgia, which passed a hands-free law last year. According to the data, published by Bloomberg, the legislation reduced distracted driving rates by 20 percent.
Current Virginia Laws on Cell Phone Use
HB 874 will join and – in some cases – supersede—current prohibitions:
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones or text messaging
- All drivers are banned from using email or texting.
- Handheld cell phones are prohibited in work zones.
- School bus drivers and commercial drivers are banned from holding cell phones and text messaging.
In January of last year, Hampton City Council approved an ordinance that fines motorists who drive recklessly while having their cell phones in hand. The ordinance states that: “Any person who drives a motor vehicle on any public street or highway in the city while using any handheld personal communications device where such use diverts the driver’s attention from the operation of the motor vehicle is guilty of distracted driving.” Violators would incur a $125 fine for the first offense, and a $250 fine for the subsequent.
Texting and driving is a selfish act, putting other lives at risk. Our car accident lawyers of Virginia Beach can help you seek just compensation against drivers who feel they are above the law.
Virginia Beach Distracted Driving Lawyers
Studies show that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds, and increases their chances of getting into an accident 23 times.
Texting or using a cell phone while driving can have life-shattering consequences. For expert legal counsel, you can count on Virginia Beach car accident lawyers of Rutter Mills. Reach out today for a free case evaluation.