Texting while driving is illegal in Virginia for all drivers. But did you know that using a cellular phone, whether hands free or not, is not allowed for any drivers under the age of 18? Virginia prohibits the use of all cellular telephone and any other telecommunications device for drivers under 18 years of age, unless 1) the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped, or 2) for driver emergency.
There are other restrictions for young drivers as well. Curfew restrictions are not only imposed by their parents, but also by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from driving between midnight and 4:00 a.m. The only exceptions recognized under Virginia law are:
- In case of emergency;
- Traveling to and from work or a school-sponsored event;
- While accompanied by a parent or adult acting in place of a parent;
- When responding to an emergency call as volunteer firefighter or rescue squad personnel.
If you are under 18 years of age, you are also limited on the number and kind of passengers you may have. There is no restriction for the number of family members as passengers, but an underage driver may not have more than one passenger under 18 years old during his or her first year of driving. After one year of driving, the limit for non-family member passengers under 18 years old is three.
Drinking and driving is illegal for drivers of all ages, but since drivers under the age of 18 years are not legally allowed to drink at all, Virginia has established a “Zero Tolerance Policy”. Under Code of Virginia § 18.2-266.1, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol. A violation of this law is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. Punishment includes suspension of your driving privilege for one year from the date of conviction and a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or having to perform a minimum of 50 hours of community service. The judge may also order you to attend an Alcohol Safety Action Program which will mean additional costs and time.
There are additional laws that apply only to minors. To assist teenagers to know their rights and responsibilities, the Virginia legislature has made available a compilation of references to statutes that may be helpful to teenagers. Please obey the law and drive safely.
About the Author: Kathleen Smith is a car accident lawyer in Fredericksburg, VA. She additionally handles many types of personal injury cases including truck accidents and pedestrian accidents in Fredericksburg, Garrisonville, Stafford County and the surrounding areas.
 For more information, go to http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/drivers/restrictions.asp.
 See Va. Code § 18.2-266.1 “Persons under age 21 driving after illegally consuming alcohol; penalty” at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-266.1.
 See the compilation at http://www.virginiarules.com/resources/search-the-law.