It is truly amazing how far cellphone technology has come. We can now use our cellphones to make phone calls, send text messages and emails, use navigation apps, take photos, play music and more. Of course, using a cellphone while driving can be distracting and can lead to reckless driving and motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, to a certain extent, cellphone use while driving can be considered a traffic offense.
For example, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is expected to approve a bill that prohibits the use of handheld cellphones in work zones. Those who violate the new law will be fined $250. The bill will become effective on July 1. Previously, the law only banned texting and driving.
The Governor initially wanted to have an overall ban on the use of handheld cellphones while driving. However, the General Assembly has so far been unable to pass such a bill. The Governor attempted to add such a provision to the bill that passed the General Assembly, but this effort was deemed to be out of order and thus could not move forward in this legislative session.
While distracted driving is certainly a public safety issue that needs to be addressed, it is important that there is no government overreach in laws passed that address cellphone use while driving. Some say that Virginia’s current texting and driving laws are almost impossible to enforce, but a blanket ban on all cellphone use may go too far. As it stands, a violation of current texting and driving laws could result in a $125 fine for a first offense and $250 for a subsequent offense. It is important that any changes to laws regarding cellphone use while driving achieve their goal of preventing motor vehicle accidents without impeding the rights of motorists.