Last week, the General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation—SB 1222 and HB1907—which would change the offense of texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary one. Earlier in the 2013 session, Delegate Tom Rust (R-Herndon) introduced a bill (HB1357) which, on its own, would change the status of the offense, and receiving wide bipartisan support, the bill was incorporated into HB1907.
“As a secondary offense, texting while driving is punishable only if a driver is stopped for committing some other offense with it, like speeding. On its own, texting while driving is a reckless behavior, and committing another reckless, dangerous act shouldn’t be required to stop the first,” said Del. Rust.
The bills increase the fines on offenders to $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Currently, the fine is $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense. The bills also increase the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $500 mandatory minimum fine if that person was texting at the time of the reckless driving offense.