Distracted Driving Laws in West Virginia
West Virginia distracted driving laws have been in place since 2012. To reduce and prevent texting and driving accidents across the state, the WV driving regulations employ a combination of primary laws and graduated penalties. Statistics suggest that together with educational materials and programming directed by the state’s Highway Safety Department, West Virginia driving laws have affected a laudable double-digit decrease in accidents since their implementation.
Despite these positive distracted driving facts and statistics, the state continues to fight unsafe driving practices, especially among young and inexperienced motorists. Ongoing messaging by authorities keeps the dangers of texting while driving fresh in the public consciousness. Law enforcement maintains an active presence on the roads, issuing citations to foster a culture of safe driving practices and stop distracted driving before more lives are lost.
What is distracted driving in West Virginia?
Driving distractions are any activities that take drivers’ attention away from the vehicle and the road. Although most motorists immediately think of cell phones use while driving when the topic of distraction comes up, many other forms of distractions are equally common and just as dangerous.
Just like any cell phone distraction would, eating, shaving and applying makeup while driving, for example, all involve removing one’s hands from the wheel and eyes from the road. Groping for items in a glove box, adjusting the radio or unsafely interacting with passengers in a vehicle can be similarly unsafe. No understanding or definition can be complete without accounting for this full range of common distractions.
Distracted Driving Laws in West Virginia for Handheld Devices
West Virginia laws against distracted driving uniformly forbid the use of any and all handheld devices while driving. State texting and driving laws are primary and, therefore, considered adequate legal cause for law enforcement officers to pull motorists over and issue tickets, even if they are not engaged in other visible violations. The ban extends to all vehicles while are running, meaning that motorists may not use their devices while stopped at traffic lights or stop signs. However, motorists may use their phones if safely parked out of the flow of traffic.
Distracted driving penalties do not apply to the use of commercial mobile radios, amateur voice radio equipment or land mobile radios. They also do not apply to the radio systems used by on-duty emergency personnel such as first responders and law enforcement officers. Exceptions may be made for otherwise illegal civilian use if the motorists in question were using their devices to contact or communicate with emergency services or to report unsafe or illicit activity to authorities.
Texting and Driving Laws in West Virginia
No texting and driving is allowed by any motorist at any time for any reason in West Virginia and is a primary offense. Officers may pull drivers over for the sole purpose of issuing a texting and driving ticket even if the motorist was otherwise obeying WV traffic laws.
West Virginia Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
West Virginia laws on distracted driving explicitly prohibit the use of any mobile device by motorists younger than 18 years of age for at any time for any reason. In light of the high incidence of texting accidents among this age group nationally, this law is rigidly enforced for the protection of everyone on the state’s roads. Strict enforcement also strongly contributes to long-term efforts to reduce and discourage poor driving habits among motorists in all age brackets.
West Virginia Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
No laws in West Virginia apply unique distracted driving fines, regulations or requirements to commercial drivers license holders beyond those which apply to all other motorists in the state.
Distracted Driving Penalties in West Virginia
West Virginia texting and driving penalties are graduated and become more severe over time as motorists incur subsequent violations. Initial texting and driving fines start at $100 and may escalate to as much as $300 by a third offense. No court fees are allowed to be added on top of any cell phone-use violation.
West Virginia law limits the consequences for texting while driving to fines up until a motorist’s third offense. At that time, the state will assign three demerit points to the motorist’s drivers license record. This may result in a motorist’s insurance company raising his or her premiums. Additional offenses may cause drivers to accumulate enough points to put their licenses and driving privileges at risk of suspension or revocation.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in West Virginia
The consequences for distracted driving in West Virginia and throughout the nation are dire. The state encourages all motorists to actively seek out ways to prevent texting and driving and to engage in safe and healthy driving practices. Drivers unsure where to start can begin by checking out the facts on texting and driving and other forms of driving distractions available from the state Highway Safety Department, along with an array of published material available from the Department about safe driving practices, habits and tips.
Above all else, authorities advise motorists to equip themselves and their vehicles with legally compliant hands-free devices and to get in the habit of using them whenever they are on the road.