Beginning January 1, 2021, it is now illegal to hold a handheld personal communications device (e.g., a smart phone) while driving a moving motor vehicle. The “hands-free” law allows police to pull a driver over for having a phone in their hand.

The first offense results in a $125 fine, and the second offense results in $250. An offense in a highway work zone is a mandatory $250 fine.

According to Drive Smart Virginia, a non-profit focused on raising awareness and providing education on traffic safety issues, 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes involved driver distraction within three seconds of the crash. Also, texting while driving increases crash risk by 2300%, and 15% of all fatal crashes were distraction-related in 2018.

Exceptions to the law include drivers who are lawfully stopped or parked, and drivers of Emergency or Department of Transportation vehicles who are performing official duties.