In May, 2011, a teen’s life was just beginning when it was tragically cut short. His car had run out of gas, so he turned on his hazards and started to push his car to the side of Route 7, in Fairfax, Virginia. Another driver, who was distracted by texting, hit him, and the teen died at the scene. While the family did pursue a civil case against the at-fault driver, he was never charged by police because texting on the phone while driving was not against the law.
Now, two Virginia delegates, Republican Ben Cline and Democrat Scott Surovell want to change that. WSLS reports that the delegates, with the support of DRIVE SMART Virginia, introduced House Bill 1360 at the end of 2012 for consideration during the 2013 legislative session. If the bill passes, a driver who is texting could be charged with reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor can be up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary offense, which means that a police officer cannot stop a driver only for texting while driving; there has to be a primary offense. If someone is charged with texting while driving while stopped for another offense, the penalty is only $20.
Our Virginia car accident attorneys have represented those who have been injured by distracted drivers. We feel for those victims and their families who have been injured or killed in this type of crash and think drivers who become distracted by their cell phones and cause accidents should be held accountable. According to Delegate Cline, “This bill will strengthen the law on texting while driving and send the message that this is not safe or tolerable driving behavior.”
About the Editors: Our personal injury law firm has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC). The attorneys with the firm publish and edit articles on three Legal Examiner sites for the geographic areas of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Northeast North Carolina as a pro bono service to the general public.