LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

RICHMOND (AP) -- A Virginia Senate committee has endorsed legislation to toughen penalties for texting while driving.

Texting while driving is already punishable by a $20 fine, but it's a secondary offense. That means police can only write a ticket if they stop the motorist for another violation.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 9-6 Monday to approve a bill that would increase the fine to $250 and make it a primary offense. That would allow police to stop and ticket anyone they spot texting behind the wheel. The fine for a second offense would be $500. If a motorist is charged with reckless driving as a result of texting, there would be a mandatory minimum $500 fine.

The bill is identical to one approved by a House of Delegates committee.

AP-WF-02-04-13 1558GMT

Read or Share this story: http://www.wvec.com/story/news/2014/09/09/14800534/