At the end of February 2013, the General Assembly of Virginia put into effect strict laws regarding the use of handheld personal communication devices while driving. With recent drastic increases in accidents related to texting while driving, legislation has amended and reenacted portions of the Code of Virginia to propose harsh penalties for those that commit these offenses. According to Virginia’s Legislative Information System the summary of the new bill is as follows: Driving while texting; primary offense; increased penalties. Provides that driving while texting is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $250 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $500. The current penalties are $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense. The bill also increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if the person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense. The bill also changes the offense from a secondary offense (one that can only be charged when the offender is stopped for another, separate offense) to a primary offense. Texting-related traffic accidents and fatalities have replaced drinking and driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths among teenage drivers. This has become an epidemic, and lawmakers have sought every angle to fight this growing problem. The statistics are telling, and there are only hopes that this new bill will begin to rectify this alarming trend as drivers of all ages take to the roadways.
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