If you are texting while driving, you can be charged with and convicted of reckless driving or illegally using a handheld personal communications device, which is a traffic infraction. All forms of reckless driving are treated as class 1 misdemeanor offenses, which are the highest level of misdemeanor in Virginia. A conviction of any type of reckless driving can result in a jail sentence, fines, suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months, and a permanent criminal record. There are approximately 15 different offenses that are considered reckless driving. Traffic infractions, on the other hand, carry far less penalty, because only fines and court costs can be imposed. Before you prepay your ticket or appear in court on your own, consider calling us to explore what defenses you may have and to see how we can help.
What Is the Offense of Texting While Driving in Virginia?
Virginia Code § 46.2-1078.1 makes it illegal to use a hand-held device while driving in Virginia. It prohibits the following actions:
- Manually entering multiple letters or text in the device to communicate with another person
- Reading any email or text that is transmitted or stored in the device
There are exceptions for drivers operating emergency vehicles, calling in an emergency, reading a caller id number, or using a factory-installed or aftermarket GPS. The infraction of texting while driving is a "primary offense," which means a police officer can stop a driver if he suspects that the driver is violating the anti-texting laws. Texting while driving is a traffic infraction. The penalty for a first offense is a $125 fine, and for a second or subsequent offense, it is a $250 fine. Three demerit points are also assessed against the driver by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Reckless Driving Offenses in Virginia
A person can be charged with both texting while driving and reckless driving if the person is engaging in one of the unsafe driving practices that are considered reckless driving while also engaging in texting. A few of these offenses include:
- Driving at or more than 20 miles over the speed limit or in excess of 80 miles per hour in violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-862
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions in violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-862
- Failing to yield the right of way when entering a highway from a side street in violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-862
- Driving recklessly in a parking lot in violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-864
- Failing to properly use signals that indicate the intent to stop, slow down, or turn in violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-860
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you may be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 in addition to court costs. Also, your driver’s license might be suspended for up to six months, and six demerit points will be assessed by the DMV.
Have you been charged with reckless driving for texting or for another reason? You may have strong defenses to the charges that you face even if you know that you are guilty. Let our experienced reckless driving attorney raise all of your defenses so that the charges you face are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To schedule your free initial consultation, start an online chat or call our office today.