Fairfax County's New Handheld Cellphone Law: More Than Just Texting While Driving 

What is the new hands-free law in Fairfax County?

 

Prior to January 1, 2021, it was illegal to use a cell phone in Fairfax County while in a work zone or to text and drive. This previously made it difficult for law enforcement to prove a texting while driving charge in Virginia. According to VA Code § 46.2-818.2 it is now unlawful for any person, while driving a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth, to hold a handheld personal communications device no matter what the reason. This means that even if you are not texting or calling, the mere act of having your phone in your hands is illegal. According to the statute, this will apply with the exception of the following conditions: 

  1. You are the operator of any emergency vehicle while engaging in the performance of official duties​;

  2. Your vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped;

  3. Any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency;

  4. The use of an amateur or a citizens band radio; or 

  5. You are operating a Department of Transportation (DOT) vehicle.

Punishment for breaking the new hands-free law? 

In accordance with the new Virginia Handheld Cell Phone Law a violation will result in a traffic ticket amounting to $125 for the first offense, and for the second or subsequent offense a fine in the amount of $250. In addition to the fine, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reserves the right to penalize a driver by up to three (3) demerit points on your driving record. You can also be charged for reckless driving if you were deemed to have endangered the life or property of another person and can receive the following penalties: 

  • $2500 fine

  • 6 months of suspended license

  • Up to six (6) demerit points on driving record 

  • 12 months in jail 

It is important to note that is it still legal to communicate via text message or phone call as long as you're not physically holding the device while driving in Fairfax County, VA or if you are lawfully stopped while using your device. 

How We Can Help

The Pickett Law Group has a group of experienced lawyers help you navigate the legal process and minimize a charge like this. Contact us today and we will begin going to work on your behalf. 

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