A recent court decision by a judge in Fairfax County has prompted the Virginia State Crime Commission to take a look at the state’s texting while driving laws. The court case involved a driver who was involved in a fatal accident, who was also believed to be texting at the time of the crash. The judge didn’t convict the driver of reckless driving – his reasoning being that Virginia has a law that makes texting a secondary (or lesser) crime. You can only be charged if you are pulled over for another “primary” offense – such as speeding. Commission Chairman Robert Bell said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Many of us were puzzled by his legal reasoning but, in any case, if that's something that's happening in the court, we need to make sure texting is covered under reckless driving."
Virginia law defines "reckless" as "a disregard by the driver of a motor vehicle for the consequences of his act and an indifference to the safety of life, limb and property." There are currently thirteen specific violations to the law. A conviction of reckless driving is punishable by up to one year in jail. Violators of Virginia’s texting law receive a $20 fine for first offense and $50 fine for subsequent offenses.
The Virginia Injury Lawyer Perspective:
The facts surrounding texting and driving are shocking. Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. A crash typically happens within an average of three seconds after a driver is distracted. In a study at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, cameras were installed on dashboards of trucks. The average time it took for a driver to be distracted when they removed their eyes from the road was five seconds. At a driving speed of 55 mph, the driving distance covered in that five seconds was the length of a football field.
According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting results in car crashes that kill 11 teens per day. But contrary to what is believed, it’s not just teenagers who are texting and driving. At least one in five adult drivers admits to texting while behind the wheel. The National Safety Council reports that texting results in 330,000 distracted driving injuries per year. And yet people continue to text while driving. If you’re one of the 330,000 who have been injured, contact a Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what civil liabilities the driver responsible for the accident may have for any pain and loss you have suffered.
Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, VA