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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Texting while driving penalties could increase

Friday, January 25, 2013

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

Texting while driving could become a primary offense with stiffer penalties if bills introduced during this session of the Virginia General Assembly pass.

A number of bills would change texting while driving from a traffic infraction punishable by a $20 fine for the first offense to reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Other bills would change texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense, meaning that a police officer could stop motorists who are texting without having another (primary) reason.

In another bill, texting would remain a traffic infraction, but the penalties would increase from the $20 fine to $250 for a first offense and from $50 to $500 for a second or subsequent offense.

In the House of Delegates, members of the Courts of Justice Criminal Subcommittee incorporated five bills into HB1907 Monday afternoon. But committee members have yet to act on the remaining bill.

In the Senate, three texting bills have been referred to the Transportation Committee, but no action has been taken on SB981, SB1222 or SB1238.

Another bill, SB1005, which would make texting while driving on a bridge or tunnel a primary offense, passed the Transportation Committee (11-2), but was sent to the Courts of Justice Committee from the Senate floor.

Residents of Franklin County are encouraged to share their opinions on these bills and other proposed legislation with their representatives in the Virginia General Assembly:

•Sen. Bill Stanley, email district20@senate.virginia.gov or call (804) 698-7520.

•Del. Charles Poindexter, email delCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov or call (804) 698-1009.

•Sen. Ralph Smith, email district19@senate.virginia.gov or call (804) 698-7519.

•Del. Kathy Byron, email DelKByron@house.virginia.gov or call (804) 698-1022.

To follow bills throughout the session, visit virginiageneralassembly.gov. and click on 2013 Session Tracking, Bills and Resolutions, then type in the bill number.

 
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