Virginia Texting Law Takes Effect Today

Story Number: NNS130701-06Release Date: 7/1/2013 11:12:00 AM
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From Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- A new law in Virginia, home of the world's largest naval base, makes texting while driving a primary offense as of July 1.

Police can now pull over distracted drivers for texting behind the wheel.

Previously, it was a secondary offense and could only be cited if the driver was stopped for another reason.

Mishap reports gathered by the Naval Safety Center show that distracted driving behaviors, including texting, are responsible for many preventable four-wheeled vehicle crashes each year.

The Navy's Traffic Safety Instruction (OPNAVINST 5100.12J) requires Sailors to comply with state and local laws while operating a personal motor vehicle off base. Hand-held cell phones and texting are prohibited onboard all Navy installations. The instruction also advises Sailors everywhere to avoid distracting behaviors such as, "eating, text messaging, adjusting the radio or compact disc player, shaving, applying make-up, reading maps, newspapers, magazines, books, etc." That's a smart choice regardless of the law.

The new Virginia law states that a driver cannot "manually enter multiple letters or texts" while driving or "read any email or text message transmitted to the device."

Under the new law, fines for texting while driving in Virginia increase from $20 to $125 for a first offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.

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