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What are the penalties for texting and driving?

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Texting while driving is a problem in many areas of the country, and most states are updating their traffic codes to try to curb the problem. In Virginia, there are specific rules that govern the use of personal electronic devices while driving. Depending on what you use your device for and where you are driving, you may face different fines.

The Virginia Legislative Information System website contains the traffic code that covers texting and driving. According to the law, you may not use a personal handheld communication device to write, read, or send text messages while you are driving a moving vehicle. In fact, you may not read anything on your device except for caller identification information and the names and phone numbers stored in your device. The first time you violate this law, you may receive a fine of $125. Subsequent offenses may lead to a $250 fine.

Another section of the law prohibits you from holding an electronic communication device while you are driving in a highway work zone. This means you may not have your phone in your hand while you are driving in an area where warning signs and/or lights indicate construction or maintenance activity. Violating this part of the traffic code may yield a $250 fine.

There are several exceptions to this law. You may use your phone to report an emergency without violating the traffic code. If you are an operating a law enforcement vehicle in an official capacity, you may be exempt from the restriction. Additionally, you may hold your phone and use it to text if you are lawfully stopped or parked.

This general information about Virginia texting and driving laws is intended for education and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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