New Texting While Driving, Provisional License, and Moped Laws Were Implemented July 1st

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Cannella & O’Neal, Imagine Justice, Richmond personal injury attorney, Texting while drivingIn the State of Virginia, three new traffic laws went into effect yesterday which impact all automobile drivers as well as operators of mopeds.  Below, we’ll give you a breakdown of each of these three laws and what you need to know in order to avoid getting a ticket over your holiday weekend:

Texting While Driving

Probably the most controversial of the three, this new law forbids texting on a mobile device while driving, which has now also become a primary offense.  This means that a police officer can pull you over if they suspect that you were reading or composing a text message while behind the wheel.  After pulling you over, you may show the officer your phone in order to prove that no recent texts were sent or received.  If you do not wish to do so, it will be your word against the police officer’s in a court of law.  If you are found guilty of texting while driving, the first offense is $125 and $250 for any offenses following. 

Drivers are still permitted to use GPS navigation, enlist the help of a voice assistant (such as Apple’s “Siri” for example), or change a song from your mobile device.  Those who oppose this new law are concerned that it may allow police officers to profile individuals under the guise that the officer pulled them over due to suspicion of the individual looking down at a mobile device.  It’s also likely that because of this additional primary offense, arrest rates of those caught driving under the influence are going to increase.  While this law will likely reduce the number of distracted drivers on our roads, it doesn’t come without its own intricacies, and we would not be surprised if protocols were added to quantify how strong a police officer’s suspicion of texting while driving must be in order to pull and individual over.  Proponents of this new law say that it’s greatest victory will be evidenced by fewer distraced driving incidents.

Provisional License Restrictions

Provisional drivers under the age of 18 are affected by this new law, which most predominately states that they can only have one passenger under the age of 21 in the car with them.  Beyond that first year of driving, these provisional drivers can have up to three under 21 passengers in the car with them. 

There are some exceptions, such as the allowance for first year provisional drivers to have three people in the car under 21 as long as it’s driving to or from school.  However, if there is a person who is over 21 in the passenger seat, the first year provisional driver is allowed to have those three under 21 people in the car.  It’s important to note that none of these restrictions apply if a license-holding parent is in the passenger seat, or if it is an emergency situation.

Moped Regulations

It’s probably safe to assume that the no texting while driving law applies to moped operators as well, and we also hope that first year provisional drivers won’t have more than one person (under 21 or not) riding with them on a moped.  First, let’s clarify that a moped is a two wheel vehicle with an engine of 49CCs and under.

These new restrictions are basic, which requires moped operators to carry a government ID with them, and also requires that they wear a helmet (and eye protection if the helmet doesn’t have that feature built-in or if their moped doesn’t have a windshield).  Also, in the next year, moped riders will be required to title and register their bikes by July 1, 2014 which will cost $10 (one-time) and $20.25 (annually), respectively.  Vanity plates will also be available for an additional $10, also through the DMV.

At the law offices of Cannella and O'Neal, our Richmond personal injury attorneys have been fighting to imagine justice for over 30 years.  To find out if you have a case, call our office day or night, 7 days a week on our personal injury hotline at 800-843-4090 for an immediate response, or fill out our intake form and we will respond with the answers you deserve within 24 hours.  We will come to you and there is no legal fee unless we win your case.

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Posted: July 3, 2013

Photo credit: mrJasonWeaver / Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

Comments

Just another profiling tool. Is this VA's version of "stop and frisk"

Thanks for this informative post. Allow me to share this law on driving. The Department of Transportation, among other bodies and the general public at large, is concerned about texting while driving, which is very dangerous. Most states have texting while driving laws which stop it, but the DOT has thrown $550,000 toward researching whether such regulations have an impact.

Wow, we'll have to keep an eye out for that impact research! We'd also like to do a follow-up blog post to see how many people have received distracted driving tickets, and if distracted driving accidents have gone down since this law was put into place. Thanks again!