Weak Link in the Virginia Law Against Texting While Driving | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Virginia lawmakers passed new citations on texting while driving in the Commonwealth. The law received bi-partisan support along with a boost from recent studies performed by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute indicating a dramatic increase in the risk of injury when texting while driving. Unfortunately, when you examine the details of the law, it’s not as strong as it should be.

A $20 dollar fine is for first-time offenders and a $50 dollar fine is levied on second-time offenders. But here’s the kicker: A police officer cannot pull someone over just for texting while driving. The only time these fines can be administered is when the police officer pulls someone over for another violation, according to ABC News.

This means if a police officer is on patrol and sees someone texting while driving, they can’t pull that individual over immediately. The driver must be in violation of another law. This does not make sense. Furthermore, it incentivizes police officers to conjure up false reasons to pull someone over in order to administer a texting while driving citation.

As an injury lawyer who’s represented clients severely hurt in major car accidents , I believe the law needs to be stricter and officers should have the ability to pull someone over upon immediate sight of texting while driving.

Our firm has written extensively about the dangers associated with texting while operating a vehicle. The risks are far too high to continue with an ineffectual law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports driver inattention played a part in four-fifths of all motor vehicle crashes. With those types of numbers, a tougher law is necessary.