‘Failure to Pay Full Time or Attention’ Is a Catchall Law Aimed at Virginia Teenage Drivers

Drivers in the state of Virginia are expected to keep their eyes on the road—and that goes double for juvenile drivers, who don't have enough experience under their belts to fiddle with radio dials or glance at maps while they're operating a motor vehicle. Under Virginia law, a distracted teen driver can be charged with “failing to pay full time or attention,” at which point it's a good idea to consult an experienced traffic attorney from Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC.

“Failure to Pay Full Time or Attention” Is a Catchall Traffic Law

If the phrase “failure to pay full time or attention” sounds a bit vague, that's how the Virginia authorities want it. If the law was phrased more specifically—say, “tuning a radio while driving”—that would put the onus on the Virginia police to actually prove that a driver was fiddling around with the radio (or that they had a reasonable suspicion thereof). The way the law is currently phrased, a police officer need only glance into your window on the road or highway and see that you're not paying attention to the traffic ahead.

If you're a juvenile, the penalties for a distracted driving conviction in Virginia can be very strict, including:

  • Hundreds of dollars' worth of fines
  • Points added to your driving record
  • Suspension of your license
  • A mandated driver education course

Teenagers Are Especially Susceptible to Distracted Driving Charges

If a police officer cruises past a middle-aged mom on the highway and sees her turning around and yelling at her kids in the back seat, he probably won't cite her for distracted driving (unless, of course, she's weaving in and out of traffic or creating some other kind of immediate danger). He won't necessarily show the same restraint when a teenage driver is involved, especially if the kid is playing his music too loudly or joking around with his friends rather than paying attention to the road. At that point, the officer is also free (within certain constraints) to charge the teen or his passengers with other violations—perhaps having open liquor bottles in the car, or violating juvenile driving passenger restrictions.

A Charge of Distracted Driving Can Be Successfully Defended in Court

Depending on the circumstances, an experienced traffic lawyer may be able to have your teenager's distracted driving charge reduced, if not dismissed entirely. This outcome is more likely if it can be shown that the distraction was minor and harmless (say, adjusting the rear-view mirror), rather than actively negligent or willfully dangerous (say, engaging in a game of catch with a water bottle while going 60 miles per hour on the highway). Call the Virginia law firm of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC today at 888-783-9701 for a free consultation.