.

Commonwealth May See Stronger Texting Penalties

Crime Commission to discuss making texting behind the wheel a reckless driving charge.

 Virginia may be considering stronger penalties for texting while driving.

The Virginia State Crime Commission will discuss a draft of new legislation Wednesday makes texting while driving a reckless driving charge as well as a traffic offense, WTOP reports.

The commission makes recommendations to the General Assembly.

A Fairfax County judge ruled this year that the current texting-while-driving law precluded a reckless driving conviction against a man prosecutors said opened a text very close to the time he struck and killed a 19-year-old man on Route 7 near Dranesville in May 2011. The current law comes with penalties of $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense.

When the case went to trial in a Fairfax County court this year, Judge Thomas E. Gallahue ordered the charge against Gage dropped, his texting notwithstanding because of the 2009 Virginia law makes texting while driving a minor traffic infraction.

The penalty for reckless driving in Virginia is up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine, which is among one of the weakest penalties for the offense in the region. 

In Virginia, texting while driving is a secondary offense - police officers can only give a ticket for the violation if they pull a driver over for another reason.

In Maryland, texting while driving became subject to a $500 fine in 2011. Maryland drivers are also not supposed to talk on a handheld phone while driving, but that is considered a secondary offense.

A  Virginia bill that would have kept the lower penalties but made texting behind the wheel a primary offense passed the Senate last session, but stalled in the House of Delegates.

Never miss any local news when you subscribe to Manassas Patch's free daily newsletter.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something