blog home Car Accidents What are the penalties for Virginians using a handheld device while driving?

What are the penalties for Virginians using a handheld device while driving?

By Ken Gibson on July 10, 2022

With the increased popularity of talking and texting on cell phones in recent years, distracted driving has been on the rise for the past 20 years.  A distracted driver is needlessly risking their own life and the lives of others. That’s why GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys initiated our “Texts=Wrecks” campaign – to help keep our neighbors safer by reminding everyone to focus on the road.

And as of last year, the Virginia Assembly has made it illegal to use a handheld device while driving. This law was enacted to make our roads safer for other drivers, motorcycle riders, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

It’s Illegal to hold a cell phone while driving

Virginia House Bill 874, which took effect January 1, 2021, made it illegal to hold a cell phone or other communications device while driving. Drivers can still talk on a phone using a handsfree device, such as a Bluetooth or a mounted cell phone with voice activation.

The new law has exceptions:  Drivers are allowed to use a handheld communications device under the following circumstances:

  • While lawfully stopped or parked (but not at a red light)
  • When reporting a roadside emergency
  • If they are using an amateur or citizen’s band (CB) radio
  • When operating an emergency or VDOT vehicle and conducting official business

What are the penalties for breaking this law?

A police officer who sees you using a handheld device while driving can pull you over and cite you for violating the cell phone regulation. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $125, and for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. If a violation of this section occurs in a highway work zone, it shall be punishable by a mandatory fine of $250. (Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-818.2) Drivers cited for violating the law will also receive three demerit points on their driving record.

If a police officer believes that a motorist operating a handheld device is driving in a manner that endangers “the life, limb, or property of any person,” the driver may also be cited for reckless driving. The penalties for reckless driving include:

  • Up to 6 demerit points
  • Up to 6 months license suspension
  • Up to $2,500 in fines ($250 minimum)
  • Up to 12 months in jail

Why is using handheld devices while driving so dangerous?

Distracted driving remains a huge problem. According to study by Virginia Tech University, 80 percent of automobile collisions and 65 percent of near crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of crash. In fact, texting makes a driver more than 23 times more likely to have an accident.

Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves the three primary forms of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. A texting driver isn’t looking at the road, isn’t fully in control of the automobile, and is not thinking about driving.

Were you hurt by a careless driver?

If you or your loved one were harmed by a negligent driver, you shouldn’t have to pay the medical bills. At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we’ll file a claim to help get you the money you need to heal after an automobile accident.

We work wisely to protect our friends and neighbors in Virginia.  We consider it a calling to help you, by employing the highest standards of legal excellence and real compassion for every client.   Further, we only we get paid when you get paid.

Call (804) 413-6777 today and find out if we can help you and all about our no-fee guarantee.

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Community service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.