Legislation that would strengthen enforcement and increase penalties for texting while driving is on the way to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.
By a vote of 28-12, the state Senate this afternoon passed House Bill 1907, which already has been passed by the House of Delegates. The bill would allow police to stop drivers for using a “handheld personal communications device” to send or view text messages and emails. Existing state law treats texting while driving as a secondary offense, meaning police must have cause to stop a driver for a separate offense before issuing a citation for texting.
Drivers found guilty of the offense would face a $250 fine for a first offense and $500 fines for subsequent offenses. The legislation also would impose a $500 mandatory minimum fine for someone convicted of a reckless driving that occurs while a driver is texting.
The bill now goes to McDonnell, who has raised concerns about listing specific activities to be banned while driving. McDonnell aides have said the governor will review the bill before deciding how to act.
The House will vote Wednesday on an identical bill that already has been passed by the Senate.
– Michael Sluss