The bill increases the fine to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. It also makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted of such would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they were texting while they were driving recklessly.
Texting while driving would also become a primary offense, which means police can stop someone on the suspicion that a driver is texting; current law allows police to charge someone with texting while driving only if they've stopped that person for another violation.
A similar bill is awaiting third reading in the state House of Delegates. It will likely pass this week.
"The governor will review the bill when it reaches his desk," McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell told Patch in an email. "However, he does continue to have concerns about beginning to list more specific activities that are prohibited while driving."
In cases where two similar bills reach the governor's desk, whichever is signed last becomes the law of the land.
Here's how they voted:
YEAS--Alexander, Barker, Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Puckett, Puller, Saslaw, Stosch, Vogel, Wagner, Watkins--28
NAYS--Black, Carrico, Garrett, Martin, McDougle, Obenshain, Petersen, Reeves, Ruff, Smith, Stanley, Stuart--12