In recognition of the fact that distracted driving is responsible for an alarming number of injuries and deaths on Virginia’s roads, the state passed a new law, effective January 1st, 2021, making it illegal for drivers to hold a phone while driving. Drivers can still talk on the phone while driving, but they cannot be holding the phone while doing so.
Distracted Driving Is Against the Law in Virginia
In VA, it is illegal to drive and:
- Send or receive text messages
- Make or receive a call from a handheld device
- Play a game on a phone or tablet
- Check or type email using a smartphone
- Operate GPS on a phone
- Pull up music playlists
Essentially, it is unlawful to perform any activity that pulls your attention away from the road and involves a handheld device.
Exceptions to the law include: calling to report an emergency, using a handheld device while performing official duties as an emergency response driver, using the device while lawfully parked or stopped, using a citizens band radio, or operating a DoT vehicle while engaged in traffic incident management.
Consequences of Distracted Driving in Virginia
Distracted driving is dangerous and can result in a number of unfortunate consequences, including:
- Punishment – Police will be out enforcing the new law. A first offense results in a $125 fine. Second, subsequent, and work zone offenses will receive a fine of $250.
- Accidents – More than 23,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving in Virginia in 2019, according to Governor Ralph Northam. In 2018, distracted driving was the direct cause of 15 percent of all collisions. However, it is believed 80 percent of accidents involve driver inattention within three seconds of the crash.
- Injuries – Injuries in distracted driving accidents tend to be severe, as drivers aren’t braking or aware of the impending crash at the time. Broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal damage, and whiplash are among common car accident injuries.
- Fatalities – 120 individuals lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2019. Many of the deceased were pedestrians hit by a distracted driver.
- Lawsuit – A person who is driving distracted can be deemed “negligent” or “reckless” in a personal injury lawsuit. Injured victims may request compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property replacement, and noneconomic damages. Plaintiffs and their attorneys can use cell phone records, surveillance cameras, and bystander accounts to make the case against a distracted driver.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a Virginia car accident, we invite you to contact Rutter Mills for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our firm has the resources and experience to fully investigate your accident and determine if distracted driving played a part. Your case deserves nothing less than a representative who will fight to get the results you need. Integrity matters, choose Rutter Mills.