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Governor considers texting law

Published 11:31pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Sam Isaacs

Capital News Service

Legislation cracking down on texting while driving is only one signature — that of Gov. Bob McDonnell — away from become law after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

House Bill 1907, proposed by Delegate Rich Anderson, R-Woodbridge, would change texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. Currently, a driver can be charged with texting while driving only if he or she has been stopped by police for some other violation.

Moreover, the bill, which passed the Senate on a 28-12 vote, would drastically increase the fines for texting while driving. The penalty would jump from $20 to $250 for a first offense and $50 to $500 for repeat violations.

Six other bills were incorporated into Anderson’s. HB 1907 includes proposals by Delegate Ben Cline, R-Amherst, and Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax, to make texting while driving punishable as reckless driving.

Anderson said a hometown tragedy prompted him to introduce the bill.

“I’m so glad that it passed. It was my signature piece of legislation this session,” he said. “I found out while having coffee with a neighbor last spring that they had lost their brother to a texting driver, so I decided something had to be done.”

Anderson said he has received hundreds of emails this session in favor of the bill and only one that opposed it.

The House of Delegates had approved HB 1907 by a vote of 92-4 on Feb. 5.

The bill does not prevent drivers from making calls with their mobile phones or from using their GPS systems.

It applies only when a motorist is using a “handheld personal communications device” to “manually enter multiple letters or text” or “read any email or text message.”

If McDonnell signs HB 1907, it would take effect July 1.

Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, is sponsoring companion legislation to Anderson’s — Senate Bill 1222. The bill is awaiting final approval by the House.

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  • HEADBAND

    I agree with both comments. If they REALLY wanted to stop texting, then VA should follow the lead of other states, and just make using a hand held phone while driving illegal.

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  • Norseman

    As much as I hate to see someone texting giving, the police his oportunity to stop me because they thought i was texting is a problem. This bill, if passed will be abused by bad actors on the force. There may not be many but it only takes one to color your view of the police for life.

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  • rjrhodes

    And how is this proposed law supposed to be enforced? Do we really expect the police to be able to determine whether a driver is texting or reading a message on their phone as they drive by?

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    • whitemarshtaxpayer

      And that would be while the officer is instant messaging the command center on his laptop while he is driving ! But of course he is a professional !! He is trained with computer skills while driving.. lolol … We the public are not capable of multitasking with the likes of a police officer .. So while the officer is emailing,instant messaging and facebooking while riding around he is also on the lookout for YOU and Me looking at our cell phone once in awhile so he can carry us to court on a reckless driving charge … geeeeeeez ,

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