RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WHSV) -- Both chambers of the General Assembly have approved legislation to toughen penalties for texting while driving.
Texting while driving is already punishable by a $20 fine, but it's a secondary offense. That means police can only write a ticket if they stop the motorist for another violation.
The Senate voted 24-15 and the House of Delegates voted 92-4 Tuesday to pass identical bills that would increase the fine to $250 and make it a primary offense. That would allow police to stop and ticket anyone they spot texting behind the wheel. The fine for a second offense would be $500. If a motorist is charged with reckless driving as a result of texting, there would be a mandatory minimum $500 fine.
State police said it is easy to spot people texting while driving.
"Something is odd about the vehicle. It's driving slower. The vehicle is weaving back and forth in the lane, and you can say, 'Oh, I bet that driver is on a cell phone.' You can pull up beside of them and look over in traffic and sure enough they're on the cell phone. It's easy to spot," said Sgt. K.L. Hyden.