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GHSA News Release

April 3, 2012

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, x13
(202)669-9746 (cell)

Three States Ramp Up Highway Safety Laws

West Virginia Becomes 36th State to Ban Texting While Driving

WASHINGTON, D.C.—GHSA congratulates West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia for passing new laws to make our roadways safer. West Virginia and Wisconsin enacted distracted driving legislation, while Virginia is getting tougher on drunk drivers.

Today, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is signing a bill making West Virginia the 36th state to ban texting while driving. Beginning July 1 of this year, law enforcement officers will conduct primary enforcement of this law, meaning they can ticket a driver for texting while driving without any other traffic offense taking place. The new law also outlaws handheld cell phone use while driving beginning July 1. However, until July 1, 2013, the handheld law will be secondary enforcement, meaning drivers can only be cited for handheld cell phone if they are committing another traffic violation.

In other distracted driving news, on March 29, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill prohibiting the use of cell phones by drivers under the age of 18 who are still under a graduated drivers licensing restriction or have a temporary license, except for emergencies. The bill goes into effect November 1. Thirty-one states now ban all cell phone use by novice drivers.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell recently signed legislation that will require first-time DUI offenders to install an ingnition interlock in their vehicle to prevent them from driving while impaired, effective July 1. Virginia joins 15 other states in requiring this proven technology for all persons convicted of drunk driving.

As Executive Director Barbara Harsha notes, "GHSA applauds these three states for strengthening their highway safety laws. West Virginia and Wisconsin do well to remind us that driving is a serious task that requires one's full attention, and Virginia's ignition interlock law is an important step toward eliminating drunk driving."

Find all state distracted driving laws at:

Drunk driving laws are available at:

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.