January 4, 2021

Beginning January 1, 2021 Holding a Phone While Driving Will Be Illegal in Virginia

Put your phone down and focus on driving. That text, call, tweet & selfie can wait! Beginning January 1, 2021, it will be illegal to hold a phone or other mobile device while driving in Virginia.

§ 46.2-818.2. (Effective January 1, 2021) Use of handheld personal communications devices in certain motor vehicles; exceptions; penalty.

  • A. 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.
  • B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
    • The operator of any emergency vehicle while he is engaged in the performance of his official duties;
    • An operator who is lawfully parked or stopped;
    • Any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency;
    • The use of an amateur or a citizens band radio; or
    • The operator of any Department of Transportation vehicle or vehicle operated pursuant to the Department of Transportation safety service patrol program or pursuant to a contract with the Department of Transportation for, or that includes, traffic incident management services as defined in subsection B of § 46.2-920.1 during the performance of traffic incident management services.
  • C. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. If a violation of this section occurs in a highway work zone, it shall be punishable by a mandatory fine of $250.
  • D. For the purposes of this section:

“Emergency vehicle” means:

  1. Any law-enforcement vehicle operated by or under the direction of a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties;
  2. Any regional detention center vehicle operated by or under the direction of a correctional officer responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
  3. Any vehicle used to fight fire, including publicly owned state forest warden vehicles, when traveling in response to a fire alarm or emergency call;
  4. Any emergency medical services vehicle designed or used for the principal purpose of supplying resuscitation or emergency relief where human life is endangered;
  5. Any Department of Emergency Management vehicle or Office of Emergency Medical Services vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or operating in an emergency situation;
  6. Any Department of Corrections vehicle designated by the Director of the Department of Corrections, when (i) responding to an emergency call at a correctional facility, (ii) participating in a drug-related investigation, (iii) pursuing escapees from a correctional facility, or (iv) responding to a request for assistance from a law-enforcement officer; and
  7. Any vehicle authorized to be equipped with alternating, blinking, or flashing red or red and white secondary warning lights pursuant to § 46.2-1029.2.

“Highway work zone” means a construction or maintenance area that is located on or beside a highway and is marked by appropriate warning signs with attached flashing lights or other traffic control devices indicating that work is in progress.

E. Distracted driving shall be included as a part of the driver’s license knowledge examination.

2020, cc. 250, 543.

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