Q: I'm a Virginia teen who never texts while driving. Am I still allowed to use my cell phone?

A: The quick answer is no. In the state of Virginia, it's legal for adults to drive while using a hand-held cell phone, though this practice has increasingly come under fire and is now outlawed in states like California and New York. However, it's still illegal for juvenile drivers (those aged 18 or younger) to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. This counts as a secondary offense under Virginia law; the fines are fairly minimal, though points may be added to your license, and you may suffer other restrictions to your driving privileges.

There is one major exception to this law, though. A teenaged driver is still allowed to use a handheld cell phone if he or she can prove that there was a real emergency. What constitutes a real emergency is up to the courts to decide. If your car is in the process of breaking down and you're calling your friend for advice, you're probably in the clear, but calling mom to tell her you'll be late for dinner is more of a grey area.

If you have been charged with talking on a handheld cell phone while driving, the attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC will bring any exculpatory evidence to light for the consideration of traffic court or the local district attorney. In the worst cases, we'll work to secure the lightest possible penalty, so you can go back to your routine as soon as possible (and hopefully think twice before talking on the phone while driving!)