Cellphones are such an important part of our lives that they are, essentially, body appendages. We use them to send text messages, send emails, take pictures, use GPS, pay bills, peruse the internet, and even make phone calls. Many times these tasks are done while we are driving because there are no other distractions. However, holding a cellphone while driving is, in and itself, a form of distracted driving and is illegal in Virginia and is prosecuted in Prince William County. Therefore, texting while driving is illegal as well. The police are on the lookout for those that are on their phones while driving and will issue a ticket if they see this. If you have been charged with holding a cellphone while driving in Prince William County, we offer a free consultation and would be happy to speak about your case. We want to help keep the charge off your driving record. Give us a call at 703-273-4100 or use the contact form below so that you can speak to our traffic lawyer.
Holding a Handheld Personal Communications Device While Driving
Pursuant to Virginia Code §46.2-818.2 it is unlawful to hold a handheld communications device while driving. This means you cannot hold a cellphone in order to make phone calls, send text messages, read emails, use your GPS, or other similar acts. Frankly, you just cannot hold a cellphone while driving. It is permissible to use a GPS while driving provided you are not physically holding the phone. In fact, you can make phone calls and send messages provided the cellphone is mounted or is otherwise not being held. It should be reiterated that holding a phone and texting while driving is not permitted. The statute is designed to stop people from driving while holding a cellphone which can be very distracting and dangerous. We have actually had Judges say in open court that they find using a cellphone while driving to be even more dangerous than a DUI because use of the cellphone takes a person's eyes off the road.
A first offense for holding a cellphone while driving is $125 fine and a second offense is $250 fine. Any conviction for driving while holding a cellphone is 3-points for DMV purposes and will post on the driving record as a traffic violation
Defenses to Holding a Cellphone While Driving
Holding a cellphone while driving does not have many so-called affirmative defenses because of the wording of the statute. Of course, the police must still prove that you were in-fact holding a cellphone and not a pocketbook, calendar, or some other item. In addition, there are two main exceptions in the statute allowing you to hold your cellphone while driving:
- Lawfully Parked or Stopped: When a vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped, the statute does not prohibit holding (and using) a cellphone. The question is what constitutes lawfully stopped or parked? We have had informal conversations with police officers about being stopped at a red light and holding your phone or being stuck in standstill traffic. Many of them don't believe they would ticket someone stopped at a red light for holding a phone because aren't they lawfully stopped? We believe this would extend to those times you're sitting in traffic as well.
- Reporting an Emergency: It is legal to hold a cellphone in order to report an emergency which is fairly obvious according to the statute. Questions can arise in circumstances underlying the word "emergency." How far does that word extend? For example, a babysitter calling a child's parents to report a child's illness could be an emergency as would plumber en route to a water line break. These questions would have to be determined by a Judge on a case-by-case basis.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
We routinely appear in the Prince William County Courthouse and handle charges in all Localities including the City of Manassas, Manassas Park, Town of Occoquan, Town of Dumfries, and Town of Haymarket. We want to help you get the charge reduced or dismissed so that it does not affect points on your driving record or insurance rates. In many cases we can appear for court on your behalf so you don't need to appear for court. We offer reasonable flat-flees in these cases and all consultations are free so that you can decide how you wish to proceed with your case.