Texting while driving in Virginia is a traffic infraction. The Virginia texting while driving law is found in Va. Code §46.2-1078.1.
Proof of Texting While Driving in Virginia
- a motor vehicle
- on the highways in the Commonwealth
- while using any handheld personal communications device to
- manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person, or
- read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device
The statute essentially is violated if a driver sends or reads a text message or email while driving. The law prohibits sending or reading any message on any device capable of sending a text or email-not just a cell phone.
Exception to Texting While Driving in Virginia Law
There are, however, exceptions to the prohibition against using a handheld communications device to send or receive information while driving. Va. Code §46.2-1078.1 is not violated by:
- reading a name or number stored in the device or reading any caller ID information
- an operator of an emergency vehicle while in the performance of his official duties
- an operator who is lawfully parked or stopped
- using a GPS device to transmit or receive data
- anyone using a handheld communications device to report an emergency
Penalties for Texting While Driving in Virginia
Texting while driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-1078.1 is a traffic infraction. A first offense is punished with a $125 fine. A second or subsequent offense is punished with a $250 fine. A conviction for texting while driving in Virginia will also result in DMV demerit points.
If the offender is convicted of any form of reckless driving and texting while driving, he will be required to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $250, even if the texting while driving in Virginia violation was a first offense.
Think Before Pre-Paying A Ticket for Texting While Driving in Virginia
Texting while driving in Virginia is a pre-payable traffic ticket, which means the driver can pay the fine and avoid coming to court. However, pre-paying the ticket is the same as pleading guilty and will result in a guilty conviction on the offender’s driving record. As a result, any future violation will be charged as a second offense and have a higher mandatory fine. Pre-paying the ticket will also result in DMV demerit points.
Texting While Driving in Virginia: Statute
§46.2-1078.1. Use of handheld personal communications devices in certain motor vehicles; exceptions; penalty.
1. Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or
2. Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.
B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
1. The operator of any emergency vehicle while he is engaged in the performance of his official duties;
2. An operator who is lawfully parked or stopped;
3. The use of factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems (GPS) or wireless communications devices used to transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system; or
4. Any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency.
C. 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.For the purposes of this section, “emergency vehicle” means:
1. Any law-enforcement vehicle operated by or under the direction of a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer;
2. Any regional detention center vehicle operated by or under the direction of a correctional officer responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
3. Any vehicle used to fight fire, including publicly owned state forest warden vehicles, when traveling in response to a fire alarm or emergency call;
4. Any emergency medical services vehicle designed or used for the principal purpose of emergency medical services where human life is endangered;
5. Any Department of Emergency Management vehicle or Office of Emergency Medical Services vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
6. Any Department of Corrections vehicle designated by the Director of the Department of Corrections, when
(i) responding to an emergency call at a correctional facility,
(ii) participating in a drug-related investigation,
(iii) pursuing escapees from a correctional facility, or
(iv) responding to a request for assistance from a law-enforcement officer; and
7. Any vehicle authorized to be equipped with alternating, blinking, or flashing red or red and white secondary warning lights pursuant to § 46.2-1029.2.
D. Distracted driving shall be included as a part of the driver’s license knowledge examination.
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