Press Club

Legal Review: Virginia Ratchets Up the Pressure on Distracted Driving

By Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas Soldan of Price Benowitz LLP

The Virginia legislature has taken the step of doubling the fines associated with distracted driving offenses when those offenses occur in highway work zones, from the standard $125 fine for a first offense to $250 for a first offense.

Distracted driving is illegal and dangerous, and is considered a “primary offense”, meaning that a police officer can stop you if they believe they see you texting.

“These laws are important to protecting the safety of highway workers as well as drivers,” said Thomas Soldan, a Virginia Traffic Lawyer. However, Virginia has not outright banned the use of mobile phones for voice calls in a vehicle, nor have they banned the use of phones for GPS or other online services.

This means that questions can arise about the action being taken by a driver when pulled over. Answering a call can look like texting, as can dialing a number or typing in an address on your phone’s GPS.

If you have been ticketed for distracted driving and believe that ticket was improper because you were completing some other allowed action on your phone, you should consult with a Virginia Traffic Attorney. Though distracted driving tickets do not carry heavy criminal penalties, they do carry fines that increase with each subsequent ticket.

That means that if you are incorrectly ticketed the first time but decline to challenge the matter, and then you are properly ticketed at a later date, you will end up paying double the fine on the second ticket when you should only be paying the fine for a first offense.

Additionally, if you were not guilty of distracted driving, there is no reason for your record to reflect being charged with such. The prosecutor is responsible for ensuring that all elements of the charge levied are met in order to be successful. Failing to assert your rights and challenge the ticket is essentially doing the prosecutor’s job for them.

It is never a good idea to allow your rights to go unenforced, even with something that may seem as trivial as a the fine associated with a ticket. Contact a Virginia Traffic Lawyer if you have been ticketed for distracted driving to see that your rights are protected.

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