Local law enforcement officers hope to see hands-free legislation passed

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Holding a phone while driving could soon be illegal in Virginia. 

As we've reported, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have passed a hands-free driving bill, now on its way to the governor. 

"Regardless of where we are, we always have to be at our phone and checking it and being up-to-date and knowing what's happening and that causes a serious issue when we're driving," said Sgt. Spencer Hoopes, with Roanoke County Police. 

Right now, Virginia law only prohibits texting or writing an email while driving. 

Hoopes says that's tough to enforce.

"We can't tell what you're doing, but you're still acting very dangerously and likely to cause a crash," said Hoopes.

We rode along with him today as he patrolled for distracted drivers, and within 10 minutes he pulled someone over. 

"What were you doing on your phone as you were going through that last intersection?" asked Hoopes.

"Pulling up my GPS," responded the driver. 

Hoopes hears that excuse pretty frequently, and it's not illegal right now.

The proposed legislation would change that, banning holding your phone while driving, regardless of what you're doing.

"I would appreciate it as a father and as a husband, driving my family around," said Hoopes. "I think it would make me feel safer." 

If you get caught driving with a phone in your hand once the bill is signed by the governor, you'll get a $125 ticket for your first offense, and a $250 ticket for your second.

"If that's what it takes, just that chance of getting a fine and it corrects that behavior, again, that's the ultimate goal here," said Hoopes.

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