Cell Phone Ban Passes in Virginia
Published: Thursday, February 5, 2009
Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2009 03:02
Using a cell phone while driving on the roads of Virginia could soon be a crime and one that could take hundreds of dollars out of driver's pockets.
A bill presented by Delegate Nancy Guthrie (D-Kanawha) proposes that a first-time offender would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $100. The second offense would result in a $175 fine. Designed for the third and subsequent violations, the driver would be required to pay a $250 penalty.
Because many states had already put stipulations on young drivers using cell phones, Guthrie felt that it was time to ask the adults to share the responsibility in making the roads safer.
In a floor session during the early stages of the bill, Delegate Guthrie said, "I just believe if we're going to ask students to be more careful by passing this legislation, then adults ought to be more careful as well."
Because Guthrie understands that cell phones have become a way of life and are extremely advantageous in emergencies, the bill if passed would allow for some exemptions.
Any hands-free mobile phone such as blue tooth or a headset could be used at all times. A hand-held device would be allowed, with one hand only on the steering wheel, if the driver has reason to believe his or her life or safety is in danger or that a criminal act is forthcoming.
The ban would also not be in effect when a driver feels compelled to report a fellow motorist driving in a reckless, careless or otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Furthermore, there is an exemption that covers a need to report a fire, traffic accident, serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency to the proper authorities.
While it is undeniable that the number of accidents or traffic violations that occur have often been linked to cell phone usage and the distractions they cause, some students feel like they are safe drivers even while talking on their phones .
Kristen Iverson, a sophomore film major from Richmond, Va., thinks that the ban has its positives and its negatives. "I honestly do drive and talk on the phone at the same time, but usually it's because I need to not just leisurely converse," said Iverson. "I think the ban should be on texting because that causes a huge distraction. You can talk to other people in the car while driving, so I don't really see how talking on the phone is that much of a hazard."
Domenio Smith, a sophomore political science major from Portsmouth, Va., is in accordance with the bill and believes it should be passed. "I think keeping people off their cell phones is a good way to keep people focused on the road and it would force people to keep both hands free," Smith said.
Although the bill and ones like it have been brought before the Senate and House before without success, Delegate Guthrie remains optimistic. "I'm hoping that it will pass this year," Guthrie said in a press interview.