A new Virginia hands-free while driving law now makes it illegal to use a handheld cellphone while driving.
Virginia Law Prohibits Using Handheld Cell Phones While Driving
The Virginia hands-free while driving law took effect on January 1, 2021. It makes it illegal to use a handheld cellphone while driving for any reason, not just when texting.
WSLS interviewed Roanoke County police Sgt. Spencer Hoopes to find out more.
“The ultimate goal here is safety on the roadway,” said Hoopes. “They could be looking at their phone for GPS purposes, they could be changing music, looking at various other apps, dialing a phone number, all of which pose a potential distraction.”
Are there Exceptions?
Yes. The new law does not apply to someone driving an emergency vehicle on the clock or anyone reporting an emergency.
You are also allowed to use your phone while legally parked or stopped at a stop sign or stoplight, but beware. If the light turns green, you’re no longer lawfully stopped and impeding the flow of traffic, according to Hoopes.
A lot of people use their phone as a GPS. If your phone is in a hands-free mount attached to the car and you’re using Bluetooth or speaker phone, then one touch to answer a call or go to the next song is OK.
Find a full description of exceptions to the law here.
What’s the Penalty?
Violation is a traffic infraction with a $125 fine. Second or subsequent offenses are $250. But if you’re in a work zone, the fine starts at $250. Find out more about the penalty here.
Safety First is Safety Always
Remember, it’s all about safety. These small distractions have the potential to cause serious damage to something or someone, including yourself.
So be safe and put the phone down while driving.