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What is the “hands-free” law?

There are many traffic violations that someone could commit. Among them is violating the “hands-free” law that is in place.

Starting in January 2021, a new law was employed that now makes it illegal for you to hold a phone or other handheld personal device while driving in Virginia. If you are caught using your handheld device, then you could face a traffic citation and penalties.

Can you still use your GPS or phone in your vehicle?

Yes. The unique thing about Virginia’s law is that you are allowed to continue using your devices, but you can’t use them in your hands. As long as you mount your phone or device, link it via Bluetooth or use speech-to-text capabilities, you can use your device. You just can’t hold onto it when you do. If you pick up your cellphone to call someone, you’ll be in violation of the hands-free law.

Can you use your phone if you’re parked, or does your vehicle have to be off?

You are actually allowed to use your handheld device while you’re parked or stopped. You can also use your phone when you need to report an emergency, even if you have to pick it up. For example, if someone is dangerously tailgating you or you’re being threatened by someone with road rage, you can technically use your phone to call 911 for help. It’s helpful if you can dial and then place the phone on speaker mode, so you don’t have to continue holding it.

What happens if you’re caught violating the new hands-free law?

If you violate the law, you could be fined $125 for a first-time offense. If this isn’t the first offense, then you can be charged more at $250 for each additional mandatory fine.

Even for a first-time offense, you could be charged $250 if you were using your phone or handheld device in a construction or work zone.

Avoiding these penalties is possible in some cases, but it takes a strong defense. If you can, mount your devices, so you can avoid facing penalties for using a handheld device on the go.

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