New Texting and Driving Law Goes Into Effect Today - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

New Texting and Driving Law Goes Into Effect Today

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Hundreds of new laws take effect this morning here in the commonwealth, including one that cracks down hard on texting while driving.

Starting today, it's a primary offense, which means police can pull you over if they catch you doing it.

The issue here is that the law does create some gray areas where it may not be so clear-cut whether you're breaking it, and Roanoke County police say it's really going to be up to each individual officer to make that determination.

Specifically, the law bans you from manually typing letters in the form of an email or text and from reading any emails or texts you receive while you're operating a vehicle.

The law does still allow you to talk on your phone while you're driving.

You can also touch your phone if it's being used as a GPS device, and you can text or read your phone if you're stopped or legally parked.

Roanoke County police admit there are instances where making a call looks very similar to sending a text message, and there may be times they have to make a tough call.

However, they say a lot of the texting activity they see on the roads now is very clear cut.

They also want to let drivers know they shouldn't expect to be let off with a warning these first few days or weeks.

"As far as I'm concerned, if I see you texting and driving, I will charge you," says Roanoke County police officer Shaun Chuyka. "It's been illegal for several years, it's a very dangerous activity, and it's something that needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, the only way we have to stop it is to press charges."

Officers say the best way to ensure you don't get pulled over is to just put the phone down, because if you don't, it's going to cost you.

The first time you get caught, you'll have to pay a $125 fine, and then every time after that it shoots up to $250.

If texting and driving leads to a reckless driving charge, that's a minimum fine of $250.