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'Phone down, it's the law' | Virginia hands-free law goes into effect Jan. 1. Here's what you need to know

If you're caught holding a device while driving in Virginia, you could be fined up to $250 starting Jan. 1.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Careless driver using his mobile phone whilst driving a car

RICHMOND, Va. — Starting Jan. 1, Virginia will enforce drivers to put their phones down while on the roads in the commonwealth.

Governor Ralph Northam announced a statewide collaboration effort in ensuring that people driving in the commonwealth will abide by the new legislation come 2021.

The new law states that it is unlawful for any person, while driving a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth, to hold a handheld personal communications device. 

"Distracted driving is a serious problem and we need everyone to work together," Gov. Northam said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday.

If a person violates the new hands-free law, the first offense will be a traffic infraction with a fine of $125. And a second or subsequent offense will be a fine of $250. If a driver violates this law on a highway work zone, it will be a mandatory fine of $250.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control, more than nine deaths and over 1,100 injuries are reported every day due to distracted drivers. Data shows that almost 6 million distracted drivers hit the roads every day in the U.S.

After working for years, the DRIVE SMART Virginia initiative has worked alongside lawmakers to amend and pass this new Virginia Hands-Free law during the 2020 legislative session. There was a minor delay in the enactment so that organizations could educate the community and authorities on how it will be enforced for the new year.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion for Virginia stated that they have led a council that has worked these past few months to educate all communities about the law before its effective date. They said they've held town halls and campaigns to alleviate the mistrust of the law, especially in Black and Hispanic communities.  

The Virginia Secretary of Public Safety also stated that members of Virginia State Police, local Virginia police departments and sheriff's offices were properly trained to make sure the law is enforced equally to all. 

To learn more about the law, click here