WAMU 88.5 : News

Virginia To Crack Down On Texting While Driving

Play associated audio
Texting while driving may soon yield drivers a $250 fine for a first offense.
Texting while driving may soon yield drivers a $250 fine for a first offense.

Virginia lawmakers voted to crack down on drivers texting while behind the wheel, but Gov. Bob McDonnell has some concerns before he signs off on the bill.

For years, lawmakers have tried to make it a primary offense to use a mobile phone while driving. They were blocked by others, who argued that reckless driving laws can cover infractions, as well as by those who did not want police to peer into cars and invade privacy.

Dele. Rich Anderson, the bill's sponsor, says the dangers posed by drivers who are texting are too great to leave the problem unaddressed.

"Because of the impaired driving that results from texting, it has the same effect as if you're severely intoxicated well beyond the legal range of intoxication," Anderson says. "So therefore it does, in fact, affect other people, up to and including death. And so for that reason, we needed to address it."

Under the bill passed this legislative session, police can pull over and charge a driver who is seen texting.  Anderson says it imposes a $250 fine for a first offense, and $500 for subsequent ones. This stands in contrast to existing law, where motorists can be fined $20 if an officer observes a driver texting while pulling him over for another reason.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the governor still has reservations.

"The governor will review this legislation when we receive it. However, he does continue to have concerns about beginning to list more specific activities that are prohibited while driving."

The bill also makes it unlawful to read emails and text messages or to manually enter multiple letters or text. That means no e-mailing, tweeting, or posting on Facebook, either.

WAMU 88.5

The Music And Legacy Of Motown

Motown founder Berry Gordy and director Charles Randolph-Wright of “Motown the Musical" join Diane for a conversation about the history of Detroit's famous sound.

WAMU 88.5

Will Montgomery County Go "Bottoms Up" On Liquor Laws?

Since Prohibition, Montgomery County has held the purse strings on liquor sales, meaning the county sells every drink from beer to bourbon to local bars and restaurants. But local business owners are pushing back from this system, claiming it lacks efficiency and leaves customers waiting. County officials say they are holding out for alternatives that protect those within the industry. We discuss both sides of the issue today.

WAMU 88.5

Exelon's Chief Strategy Officer On Its Proposed Takeover Of Pepco

Kojo chats with Exelon's chief strategy officer about the company's vision for electric service in the Washington region, and its argument for why its acquisition of Pepco is in the best interest of customers.

WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.