RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Tapping on your BlackBerry or iPhone while at the wheel of a car is going to cost you if a bill overwhelmingly endorsed by a Senate committee becomes law.
On a 10-4 vote Monday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee approved legislation that makes texting or e-mailing while driving a primary offense in Virginia.
It’s already a secondary offense, meaning police have to have other grounds to stop a motorist.
Democratic Sen. George Barker of Fairfax said his bill authorizing police to hit the blue lights just for catching a driver texting addresses a huge surge in traffic accidents attributed to texting drivers and public anger over it.
Opponents questioned whether the bill would give police power to confiscate people’s phones or pre-empt a more serious charge of reckless driving.
In October, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli teamed up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council to unveil a new public service announcement campaign, urging young adults to “Stop the texts and stop the wrecks,” after a study showed drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers.
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