Local police warn about cellphone use while driving

The Buckhannon Police Department wants to remind everyone that beginning July 1, it will be a primary offense in West Virginia to talk on, text or otherwise use a cellphone while driving, unless the phone is installed so that it may be operated “hands-free.”

As a primary offense, a police officer may issue a ticket for hand-held cellphone use without having to city the driver for any other offense.

It makes no difference if the motorist initiates the call or answers one. Both are prohibited throughout the state.

A driver is not allowed to use the hand-held cellphone, or similar device, even while momentarily stopped in traffic, including at red lights.

If there is a true emergency, one may call to report an accident, medical emergency or something of that nature. Otherwise, people need to break their habit of driving with one hand while holding a phone with the other, police said.

The municipal judge warns motorists not to expect any reduction in fines for this offense. Although there are no court costs or fees to be added to the fine, the fine itself is a flat $100 for a first offense. It increases to $200 and $300 for subsequent offenses.