VIRGINIA

Texting while driving will be a primary offense in Virginia on July 1

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Law enforcement officers are hoping the progression of texting and driving is similar to seatbelts. Many years ago not everyone wore them. Now people put them on without thinking twice.

The hope is people who now text and drive will, at some point, not even consider doing it and like seatbelts, law enforcement says tougher laws can make a big difference.

Driving around the Capital Beltway, chances are you'll' see this someone texting while driving at speeds of 60 to 70 miles an hour.

Starting Monday, texting and driving becomes a primary offense in Virginia, joining D.C., Maryland, and 39 other states where law enforcement officers can pull over drivers solely for texting or emailing while driving.

Alexandria Police Lt. Mark Bergin says law enforcement will take more action now that they don't have to first pull someone over for a secondary offense, like failing to use a blinker or having a busted tail light.

"We don't want to have to follow somebody for three blocks while they're doing something we know is dangerous before we can stop them, we can stop them right there," Bergin says.

A lot of people text at a stoplight, then look up and down, up and down, until it's time to go.

The big question of course, is whether tougher laws will change driver behavior.

The new law goes into effect on Monday, July 1. The first citation will be a fine of $125 dollars, with every offense after that carrying a fine of $250 dollars.

 

The law comes before the Fourth of July holiday, where AAA predicts nearly 970,000 Virginians will be on the roads.

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