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New VA Laws: Starting today, put your phone down or face a ticket

If you’re holding a phone in your hand while driving, you can now be pulled over.

NORFOLK, Va. — All week long 13News Now will review new Virginia laws starting in the new year.

A big one, that will affect just about all of us, is the ban on handheld devices while driving.

You may remember when the Virginia General Assembly approved a ban on texting and emailing while driving years ago.

But since then, we’ve still been able to do things on our phones like scrolling through social media while behind the wheel. In 2019, there were more than 23,000 crashes caused by this kind of distracted driving and 120 people died.

RELATED: Holding a phone while driving will soon be illegal in Va.

The effort to ban texting and emailing didn’t do a lot to help either, because it has been too difficult for officers to enforce. How can they tell if you’re texting or doing something else?

This new law is much easier to enforce.

If you’re holding a phone in your hand while driving you can now be pulled over. It’s also a primary offense, which means officers don’t need another reason to pull you over.

First-time offenders will receive a $125 fine. Additional offenses are a fine of $250.

The new law goes into effect Friday, Jan. 1, so if you’re not familiar with hands-free and Bluetooth technology in your car, now is the time to learn.