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Hand-Held Cell Phone Use While Driving Will Be Illegal In Richmond

man looking at phone while driving, about to hit woman
Starting on June 9th, all handheld cellphone use while driving will be illegal within Richmond city limits. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force/Sadie Colbert)

Having a phone in hand while behind the wheel will become illegal in Virginia starting next year. But in Richmond, the ban will go into effect next month.

Richmond City Council passed the distracted driving ordinance back in December. Starting on June 9th, all handheld cellphone use while driving will be illegal within Richmond city limits. The only exceptions are calling emergency services or when stopped at a stop light. 

Richmond Police Lieutenant Edward Capriglione says the ordinance also takes distracted driving from a secondary to a primary offense.

“This new ordinance allows police officers to take action whenever they observe a driver operating a motor vehicle while using their handheld communications device, without also having to observe any evidence of distraction,” Capriglione said. 

Strictly holding your cellphone while behind the wheel will not be illegal in the city, but manipulating it in any way will be. If caught, it will be punishable by a $125 ticket for a first offense and $250 for any subsequent offense. 

Capriglione said Richmond Police are launching a social media campaign to ensure drivers are aware of the law change.

“The overall message is: When drivers get behind the wheel in Richmond, we want them to buckle up and put the phones down,” he said. “I think if we can get most drivers in the city to do that, we’ll be a much safer city for all drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists that use our roadways.”

The Virginia General Assembly also passed a stricter distracted driving law earlier this year. That will go into effect on January 1, 2021.