Lawmakers to tackle texting bills

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — If some Virginia lawmakers have it their way people who text and drive could have to pay higher fines, and even end up in jail. These are two options legislators are considering to crack down on the state's texting problems.

Texting and driving is a secondary offense and punishable by a $20 fine. Right now, an officer can only write a ticket for texting and driving if they pull over the driver for another violation. But, there are currently three bills in the General Assembly that could change that.

We all know we're supposed to keep our eyes on the road at all times. But, if you take a quick look at the streets in Hampton Roads, it's clear that message is easier said than done.

"Well I typically wait until I'm at a light or if we're sitting in traffic to text. I try to just use small words and abbreviations," self-proclaimed texter and driver Matt Ward said.

Even though studies show texting and driving can be as dangerous as drinking and driving, it doesn't seem to be enough to deter drivers from doing it.

"There are worse evils out there than texting while you're driving," Ward said.

This could be the year, when Virginia takes a harder stance on the offense. 

"That would probably change my mind a little bit. If I see a cop obviously I'm not going to do it in front of him," Ward said.

One of those bills propose making texting and driving a primary offense with an increased penalty of $250.
The other two bills have even tougher penalties like making texting and driving a reckless driving charge, punishable by jail time

Ward says something like that could get him to stop texting and driving.

"Stiffer punishment, stiffer time that might changes peoples opinions and maybe help the situation alleviate it," Ward said. "Yea I possibly could slow it down."

The three texting bills will go before a subcommittee on Monday. If it passes there Virginia is one step closer to imposing stricter texting laws.

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