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Abigail Hockett

Associate Attorney at Matney Law PLLC

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Can I Use My Phone While Driving in Virginia

Using My Cell Phone in Virginia
Posted by Abigail Hockett of Matney Law PLLC Newport News, VA

Drivers in Virginia, starting on January 1, 2021, you will need to put your cell phone down. Virginia has some new rules to discourage distracted driving and restrict drivers from holding a cell phone or other handheld device while driving (See below, Virginia Code § 46.2-818.2).

The rule prohibits holding a cell phone or other handheld device while driving a moving vehicle on a road in Virginia. However, the rule does allow drivers to hold their phone or device when their vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped. Additionally, you may hold your phone when reporting an emergency. There are a few other exceptions, which are listed below.

Violation of this new rule is a traffic infraction. The first offense will carry a fine of $125. For any second or subsequent offense, it will cost you $250. If you are caught in a work-zone, there is a mandatory fine of $250.

If you have been charged with a traffic offense, contact our office to discuss your case. We look forward working with you to help you receive the best possible result for your situation.

§ 46.2-818. Use of Handheld Personal Communications devices in certain motor vehicles; exceptions; penalty. (effective January 1, 2021)

A. It is unlawful for any person, while driving a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth, to hold a handheld personal communications device.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
1. The operator of any emergency vehicle while he is engaged in the performance of his official duties;
2. An operator who is lawfully parked or stopped;
3. Any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency;
4. The use of an amateur or a citizens band radio; or
5. The operator of any Department of Transportation vehicle or vehicle operated pursuant to the Department of Transportation safety service patrol program or pursuant to a contract with the Department of Transportation for, or that includes, traffic incident management services as defined in subsection B of § 46.2-920.1 during the performance of traffic incident management services.

C. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. If a violation of this section occurs in a highway work zone, it shall be punishable by a mandatory fine of $250.

D. For the purposes of this section:

"Emergency vehicle" means:
1. Any law-enforcement vehicle operated by or under the direction of a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties;
2. Any regional detention center vehicle operated by or under the direction of a correctional officer responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
3. Any vehicle used to fight fire, including publicly owned state forest warden vehicles, when traveling in response to a fire alarm or emergency call;
4. Any emergency medical services vehicle designed or used for the principal purpose of supplying resuscitation or emergency relief where human life is endangered;
5. Any Department of Emergency Management vehicle or Office of Emergency Medical Services vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
6. Any Department of Corrections vehicle designated by the Director of the Department of Corrections, when (i) responding to an emergency call at a correctional facility, (ii) participating in a drug-related investigation, (iii) pursuing escapees from a correctional facility, or (iv) responding to a request for assistance from a law-enforcement officer; and
7. Any vehicle authorized to be equipped with alternating, blinking, or flashing red or red and white secondary warning lights pursuant to § 46.2-1029.2.

"Highway work zone" means a construction or maintenance area that is located on or beside a highway and is marked by appropriate warning signs with attached flashing lights or other traffic control devices indicating that work is in progress.

E. Distracted driving shall be included as a part of the driver's license knowledge examination.

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