It's illegal to hold a cellphone while driving in Virginia starting Friday, Jan. 1.
Law enforcement officials and many drivers say the new law will help make the roads safer.
”Our officers will be able to enforce this law, but we hope that the community will follow the tips that we’ve provided to keep their hands free, their eyes up and the roadways safe,” Fairfax County Police Department Lt. James Curry said.
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You’re still allowed to talk on the phone while driving, just not to hold the phone. If you do need to place a phone call, officials ask that you use the Bluetooth system in your car, use an ear piece in just one ear (it’s illegal to use them in both ears) or use a cellphone mount on your dashboard.
Violations are punishable with a fine of $125 the first time, and $250 for repeat offenses. Anyone who’s caught using a phone in a work zone will get a $250 fine.
There are some exceptions, including for anyone making an emergency call, and for operators of emergency vehicles. Using your phone while legally parked is OK. Go here to see Virginia's Drive Smart public information campaign on the new law.
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
The previous law only prohibited holding a phone while driving in a work zone, and reading or typing an email or text while driving.
D.C. and Maryland already have handheld phone bans in place.