Put Down The Phone
A New VA Law In Effect Jan 1, 2021
Virginia has a new law that came into effect on the first day of 2021. This law makes it illegal to use a handheld mobile device for any reason while driving. Previously, it was considered a secondary offense. Drivers were prohibited from using their devices while driving but an officer could not pull drivers over for it. Previously, you had to be doing something else illegal and the charge could be added when you were pulled over. Now, it’s a primary offense, meaning that you can be stopped and charged with using a device. So if you’ve gotten accustomed to scrolling for new tunes, entering your GPS destination while driving or skipping through YouTube adverts, you should probably knock it off.
There are some pretty steep fines involved with this law. The Commonwealth’s legislature is hoping to lower the instances of distracted driving, which just so happens to be the most common cause of accidents. It will also provide quite a bit of revenue, judging by the small number of people who realize this law is now in effect. For a first offense, drivers will see a fine of $125. A second, and all subsequent offenses, will cost you a cool $250. This is also the elevated fine for a first event of using a handheld device while in a work-zone. Unless you feel like you really need to give your money to the Commonwealth of Virginia, get a phone mount.
Please take my $125. I prefer it to spending $25 on a phone mount.
There are some notable exceptions, like having your phone in a mount. You are allowed to touch the phone while it is mounted. You are not allowed to remove the device from the mount and hold it in your hand. Bluetooth is okay, so is Car Play. You’re still allowed to have ONE earbud in. It’s still illegal to have both ears covered though, so don’t try to show off your super cool Beats headphones while you’re cruising.
You are allowed to use your devices, while in your hand, to make emergency calls to 911, police, ambulance or fire and rescue. You may use a handheld device while legally parked or while at a red light. However, when the red light turns green, even if it is not your turn to go, you are no longer legally at a stop. An officer can and will pull you over the moment the light turns green, even if there are 30 cars ahead of you. Traffic is also no excuse. Stopped due to congestion is not the same as legally stopped. Just an FYI.
Obviously, you still shouldn’t be texting, tweeting, Instagramming or posting anything, anywhere, while you’re driving. Just don’t do that, ever. We, those lucky few who share the roads with you, would like to keep living.
Are tweeting out your political opinions worth more than your life, bro?
Maryland and DC have had these laws for some time now. They’re new to Virginia but not new to most other places. You can mitigate the amount of times you encounter this new law by doing some pretty basic things. Get a phone mount for your car. It will be cheaper than the fines you may incur by holding your device. Another way, the one that we suggest, is to put your phone out of reach while you’re driving. Seriously, there is nothing happening that you need to know about this very second and it could save your life. Just stick your phone in your glove-compartment, in your bag or in the backseat. If those spots are still close for your levels of temptation tolerance, store it in the trunk (and level up your tolerance because that’s sort of pathetic). Try harder Northern Virginia. You survived 2020, surely you can do a 30 minute commute without posting a picture of how awful the traffic is.