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The first month with Virginia’s Hands Free Driving Law

Virginia State Police reports 37 summonses were issued for violating the new law, in just the first week of January.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:37 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -

On Jan. 1, 2021 the state of Virginia implemented a law, making it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.

Now, about three weeks into the new year, Lieutenant Ritchie with Harrisonburg Police Department says HPD has been taking an educational approach with the law. He says many warnings have been given, but just a warning is not guaranteed.

“It’s not a progressive thing as okay, we’re going to give you a verbal warning, then a written warning and then a - no, we don’t do that. When the officer looks at the circumstances and, with his discretion, he’s allowed to give you a written warning, give you a verbal warning, he could write you a summons,” said Lt. Ritchie.

At the state level, Virginia State Police reports 37 summonses were issued for violating the new law, in just the first week of January.

Anyone pulled over and fined, will receive a $150 fine for their first offense, and repeated offenses will see increased fines.

Lt. Ritchie says HPD sees over 2,000 crashes yearly, many of which are linked to distracted driving. He says, public safety is the top priority.

“The bottom line is, I don’t want anybody running into a pedestrian, or crossing the center line and hitting a tractor trailer, or rear ending somebody just because they’re distracted, and these phones are very distracting,” Lt. Ritchie said.

He says the best things to do are:

- Utilize hands free Bluetooth, if your car allows

- Pull over safely if you really need to use your phone

- Or, just have the discipline to wait to use your phone until you get to your destination

For more information on the new law, visit https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter10/section46.2-1078.1/

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