The city of Richmond has passed an ordinance that bans drivers from holding any communications device, such as a cell phone, in their hand while operating a motor vehicle. The purpose of the ordinance is to help keep pedestrians safe and eliminate traffic fatalities. The ordinance was passed by the City Council in a unanimous vote and contains exceptions for public safety personnel or drivers who are having an emergency situation.
A former Richmond police officer who was struck by a distracted truck driver and pinned between two cars, causing him to lose both legs testified before the council. He testified that the accident could have been completely avoided if the driver had been paying attention on an icy road. It is the hope of the council that the General Assembly will take notice of the ordinance and continue to push for a statewide law banning the use of such devices.
The fines for holding a cellphone, or any other communication device, while driving are $125 for the first offense and $250 for each subsequent offense. Cell phones may still be used while driving as long as they are operated in a hands-free manner. The city will allow a six month grace period for the ordinance to allow a driver education period.
If you or someone you know has questions about this ordinance or any other traffic offense, a local attorney will be happy to answer those for you. Also, if you feel you have been wrongly fined for the use of a communication device while driving, consult with a criminal defense attorney who can request proof of your offense, or even possibly get the charge dropped.