Richmond council backs ban on handheld cellphone use while driving

The Richmond City Council unanimously approved a ban on handheld cellphone use while driving.

The ordinance, proposed by Mayor Levar Stoney, passed Monday and will take effect in six months.The first offense will be punishable by a $125 fine.

If you’re caught again you’ll pay $250.

Richmond Police said at least 218 people have been hurt or killed in the city by distracted drivers so far this year.

“It’s just not acceptable to use a cellphone while driving when we know the dire consequences,” said Mayor Stoney.

“With this ban, Richmond sends a clear message: whether you’re texting or not, put down the phone, or there will be consequences. I hope the General Assembly will send the same message this year.”

A Virginia law —  that took effect in 2013 — bans drivers from texting or emailing on handheld cellphones. An additional ban on all handheld cellphone use by drivers in work zones went into effect this year.

An effort to pass a more wide-ranging statewide ban failed in the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year. In April Gov. Ralph Northam pledged to try again in 2020.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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