Sending a text message while driving may cost you big money if legislation passed last week by the General Assembly gets the governor’s signature.
Both houses of the General Assembly passed measures on Feb. 5 making the use of a “handheld personal communications device” to send or view text messages and emails a primary offense, meaning police officers would no longer need another reason to pull a driver over before citing them for it.
Drivers found guilty would be fined $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
The legislation would also impose a $500 mandatory minimum fine for someone convicted of a reckless driving that occurs while a driver is texting.
“Texting while driving has become a serious problem on our roads and it should be treated in Virginia as a serious traffic offense,” said Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County.
The identical bills, House Bill 1907 and Senate Bill 1222, passed the House by a vote of 92-4 and the Senate by a vote of 24-15.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has not publicly said if he will sign the legislation into law.
If he does, the new rules would take effect July 1.