On July 1, 2013, a new law went into effect regarding texting and driving. Until that point, texting and driving had been considered a “secondary” offense. Although it was still illegal to text while driving, police officers needed another reason to justify pulling over someone who was suspect of texting and driving, making it hard to enforce the law. The new law now makes it possible for police officers to pull over vehicle operators who are texting without having another reason. Although it seems rather straightforward, putting the new law into a statute has proven more difficult than originally planned.
The current wording of the law is as follows:
Use of handheld personal communications devices in certain motor vehicles; exceptions; penalty.
A. It is unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to:
B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
The wording of the new law now leaves police officers with a new role, lie detector. Although it may appear that the vehicle operator was texting, proving so will be hard. Under the new law, Virginians can still use their phones to look up numbers, dial phone calls and for use as a GPS. This leniency within the law will add incentive for some citizens to be dishonest with police officers if ever put in a situation where they have been pulled over for texting and driving.
While we do not recommend lying to police officers, there are some things we do recommend:
Although we all believe that it is unlikely that we will be the one who gets caught, that split second when we take our eyes off the road to text can cause great problems. Not just the possibility of a ticket but also the chance that we could cause serious injury to ourselves or others. The best solution is to steer clear of texting and driving and keep your eyes on the road.