New Texting While Driving Law to Take Effect in July

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG, VA.---A new law will increase enforcement and fines for texting while driving in the Commonwealth.

The law set to take effect on July 1, will make texting and driving a primary offense.Currently, officers can only give you ticket, for texting, if you committed another offense. With the new law,officers can pull you over if they see you texting behind the wheel.

Steven Pugh admits he texts while driving.

"I don't always have the luxury of pulling over to send that message," said Pugh.

He said the new law may be hard to enforce. Virginia State Police First Sergeant Frank Pyanoe disagrees.

"If their texting takes longer than a few seconds, you know they are not dialing a number, that they are communicating with somebody," said Pyanoe.

According to Pyanoe, this is something troopers already notice.

" It's not uncommon to see folks texting with their phones in front of them in the steering wheel," said Pyanoe.

However, he recognizes the new law may have some challenges for law enforcement. Under the new law, drivers will not get pull over for using GPS systems.

"It may be hard to differentiate as to whether somebody is utilizing the GPS app in their cell phone or if they are texting," said Pyanoe.

A driver convicted for texting while driving, will pay $125 for the first offense and $250 for the second or subsequent offenses, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Currently, drivers pay $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense,

The new fines may deter drivers like Nick Fite from texting.

"I have been guilty of texting and driving. I think a lot of us have. I will probably toss the phone in the back seat," said Fite.

However, Pugh said the law will only make him pay more attention for officers.

"I won't change my habits because I am willing to pay the fine," said Pugh.

The law also changes some other fines. If a person is convicted of reckless driving, the driver could pay $250 if he or she was texting at the time, according to the DMV.

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