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Bigger Ticket for Texting Starts Today

PHOTO: Virginia's tougher texting law goes into effect today. Photo credit: Virginia Tech
PHOTO: Virginia's tougher texting law goes into effect today. Photo credit: Virginia Tech
July 1, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Starting today, texting while driving is a primary offense in Virginia. That means police can now stop drivers they spot tapping out a text and slap them with a much heftier fine.

Janet Brooking, executive director, DriveSmart Virginia, said Virginians should not text when they are behind the wheel.

"Just stop doing it. Change your behavior. You don't want the financial penalties. You don't want to risk being in a crash and hurting someone or yourself," she warned. "So just stop doing it."

A first offense now costs $125, up from $20. The fine for a second offense is now $250. The new law still allows drivers to make calls or use their phone's GPS device, so enforcement could be a challenge, however.

Brooking pointed to clear evidence that texting is a huge distraction for drivers.

"We know that texting and driving is so dangerous because of the study that was done by Virginia Tech," she said. "It shows that when you text and drive, you are 2,300 percent more likely to be in a crash."

Brooking urged the General Assembly to eventually ban drivers from using hand-held phones.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - VA