Anti-Texting While Driving Law Yields Few Tickets - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Anti-Texting While Driving Law Yields Few Tickets

Posted: Updated: July 19, 2013 08:45 PM

A lot was made about a new Virginia law that allows police to pull someone over for texting while they're driving.

After months of discussing it, the law took effect on July 1. NBC29 wanted to know how it's being enforced and how many $125 tickets have been written in those 19 days in our part of the state, so we asked police departments and sheriff's offices from Augusta to Fluvanna, including Albemarle and Charlottesville. As best we can tell, the answer is almost none.

Spokesperson for Albemarle County police, Carter Johnson, said, "Since the texting and driving law became a primary offense we've issued two summonses."

Charlottesville's issued one and Fluvanna, none. Others won't say. Twenty percent of all crashes in 2012 were from distracted driving, so why only three tickets?    

"It's a new law and it's only been in effect for a couple of weeks and so we want to make sure that the community knows about it," Johnson said. 

Another reason for the light enforcement may be that it is difficult to tell what is a violation and what is not. 

"The real problem is that the law is kind of vague and for example if I got my BlackBerry out I could be doing things on my BlackBerry but I might also be making a phone call. A phone call is not prohibited by the statute, only texting is," said attorney and NBC29 legal analyst Lloyd Snook. 

Drivers we spoke with fall on both sides of the fence. 

"I personally think it would be wisest for people to receive consequence immediately because there've been too many accidents already, people being injured or texting while driving," said driver Mary Rinehert. 

Luke Joback, a student, said, "I don't think the police should enforce the law immediately; I think there should be a grace period." 

NBC29 will keep tabs on whether the level of police enforcement changes.

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