July 1, 2013
Police across Virginia are going to start cracking down on people who text while driving as a slew of new laws takes effect in the commonwealth Monday.
"It's not safe," Charlottesville resident Missy Green said. "You have to consider other people's lives. It's dangerous. Something could happen in an instant."
Charlottesville Police say they're going to start educating drivers about the new law. Enforcement won't be much different than tracking someone down who may be driving under the influence of alcohol, as police say the two are comparable.
"Where they accelerate or decelerate, weaving in and out of the lane of travel, delayed responses to the traffic regulatory signs as well as signals," Charlottesville Police Lt. Ronnie Roberts said.
Some Charlottesville drivers said they were surprised the new law is now in effect.
"I have before, but at stop lights, and my mother has berated me for it, very smartly, so i have stopped," Charlottesville resident Shailagh Kennedy said.
Texting and driving is a primary offense, meaning officers don't need any other reason to pull you over.
"When the officer, he or she, stops you, and they're able to substantiate the violation, you have a date with a judge beyond that date with the officer at road side," Roberts said.
Police say if you're driving at a high rate of speed and look down at your phone for even just one second, that would create a number of factors that could lead to a crash, if not worse.
"We don't like issuing out traffic tickets," Roberts said. "But the other side of it, too, is it's a necessary requirement of what we do every day to reduce the number of needless injuries that occur on the nation's highways."
Especially in an urban area with many traffic lights and pedestrians, police say the law is all the more relevant.
"It's so important to remember that your actions can cause a lot of harm to another person and their family," Roberts said.
Using your phone to text while stopped at a red light is also illegal, as it falls under the realm of the law. A first offense will cost $125, while a second costs $250.