Do you think entering any text into a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle constitutes texting while driving?
Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:
Texting-While-Driving Law Confuses Virginians
RICHMOND (WRIC)—Confusion over Virginia's texting-while-driving law is the
reason only just over 300 people have been cited since the new law took effect
The head of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police says it's not just
texting that drivers can get in trouble for.
"It really isn't just a texting law," said Diana Schrad, the executive
director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. "It's about using
your smartphone, using any personal communication device while you're driving
that would distract you from the road."
Police officers in Chesterfield County have given out just 14 tickets since
July. The current language of the law—which identifies communicating with
another person as the violation—may be the reason so few have been ticketed. Police
look for obvious signs of distracted driving, like hands being taken off the
wheel or looking down at a cell phone, but what happens if a driver is
conducting a Google search? Does that count as texting?
"We're really not sure, because that is, in fact, entering data, entering
text or numbers into your phone," Schrad said. "Now, is that a personal
communication? Maybe not."
Schrad is working with the Office of the Attorney General to clarify the law
before training more police departments. Another reason a low number of texting-while-driving
tickets have been given out is that some drivers are being ticketed for reckless
"You see people driving up the road, they're running off the shoulder of the
road, you think they might be a drunk driver, but, in fact, they're actually
texting while they're driving that vehicle," said Sgt. Thomas Molnar of the
Virginia State Police. "So, they could be also charged with just reckless
driving instead of texting while driving."
Regardless of the new law's confusing language, it is clear that police want
drivers off their phones altogether. It may not be the Office of the Attorney
General that ends up clarifying the law; it could come down to a court case and
a judge's ruling.