Tougher Texting and Driving Law Proposed in Virginia

Lynchburg, VA - Proposed legislation that would toughen Virginia's texting behind the wheel law would be a welcome change for law enforcement.

Under a bill proposed by Delegate Ben Cline, using a handheld communication device for something other than a phone call would be considered reckless driving. This would allow an officer to pull over any driver the officer sees texting.

Texting behind the wheel has been a secondary offense in Virginia since July 2009. An officer would have to see a driver commit another traffic infraction before the officer could ticket the driver for texting.

"Sometimes it's hard once you approach the driver because their cell phone is either placed away in their pocket, or back in their pocketbook," said Officer. Mike Howard of the Lynchburg Police Department's Traffic Safety Unit. "They appear to be driving in a reckless manner, it's going to be enough for me to be able to stop the vehicle."

Cline says the bill would not prohibit dialing a cell phone to make a call. He says it's also not intended to prohibit use of GPS devices, even GPS smart phone apps.

The General Assembly will take up the bill when it convenes next month.