Virginia Law on Driving and Texting or Using a Cell Phone

I saw a sign the other day that said: “Honk if you love Jesus; text while driving if you want to meet him.”

A recent study found that over 80 percent of drivers regularly use a cell phone while driving. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that cell phone use while driving can be dangerous and lead to a Charlottesville auto accident. Sending and receiving texts is even more dangerous, and believe it or not, you are just as likely to be involved in a Virginia car accident whether you are talking on a handheld device or using a hands-free headset.

The statistics indicate that YOU are probably using your cell phone while driving. Virginia lawmakers have taken notice of the rising trend and are proposing legislation to remedy the situation. The laws have remained the same for the past year or so, but here’s a quick refresher in case you didn’t know or don’t remember.

Can You Talk on the Phone While Driving in Virginia?

Virginia Code § 46.2-1078.1 states it is illegal to text and drive on highways. It is also illegal to hold a cell phone in your hand while driving through a work zone, unless you are legally parked/stopped, or are reporting an accident. Failure to comply is a $125 fine for first-time offenders and $250 for subsequent offenses.

Virginia Cell Phone Use While Operating a Motor Vehicle Laws:

  • Any driver under the age of 18 may NOT use a cell phone, neither handheld nor hands-free, under any circumstances at any time. This is a secondary offense, meaning that a driver cannot be pulled over for cell phone use but may be ticketed for cell phone use if pulled over for a primary offense such as speeding or failing to yield.
  • ALL drivers must refrain from sending and receiving texts while operating a motor vehicle. Again, this is a secondary offense.
  • Bus drivers may not talk on a cell phone under any circumstances. This is a primary offense, meaning that a bus driver can be pulled over for the sole reason that they are talking on a cell phone.

Legislation is in progress for a complete ban on cell phone use, including hands-free devices across all age groups; however, it is not expected to pass anytime in the near future.