Virginia's Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

Read about Virginia’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a violation.

Virginia’s distracted driving law generally bans texting-while-driving for all motorists and talking on a cellphone for only certain drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the law prohibits and the costs and other consequences of a violation.

Talking on a Cellphone

For most Virginia drivers, there are no restrictions on talking on a cellphone while operating a vehicle. However, certain commercial drivers, school bus drivers, and drivers who are under the age of 18 are generally prohibited from using a cellphone while driving.

Commercial drivers. Commercial drivers who are driving vehicles designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers (including the driver) are prohibited from talking (and texting) on a cellphone while driving. The only exceptions are for contacting police and emergency personnel and talking on a phone using hands-free technology. Drivers who violate the law face up to $2,750 in civil penalties.

School bus drivers. School bus drivers are generally prohibited from using wireless telecommunication devices while operating a bus. There are, however, exceptions for emergencies, two-way radio devices, communicating with dispatch while parked, and communicating with school or public safety officials using hands-free technology. A violation is a traffic infraction and carries up to $250 in fines.

Underage drivers. Motorists who are under 18 years old are prohibited from using cellphones and other wireless telecommunication devices while driving. A violation is a traffic infraction and carries up to $250 in fines. For a second or subsequent violation, the judge can suspend the driver’s license for up to six months.

Texting and Email

Virginia’s distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from texting and emailing while driving. Generally, the ban includes entering and reading text messages and email.

Exceptions. The texting and email ban doesn’t apply to:

  • motorists who are lawfully parked or stopped
  • operators of emergency vehicles while performing official duties
  • any person using a device to report an emergency, or
  • factory-installed or aftermarket GPS systems.

Penalties. A violation of the texting and email law is a traffic infraction. For a first violation, the fine is $125. Second and subsequent violations carry a fine of $250.

Depending on the circumstances, a texting violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction.


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