Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is likely to put his signature on a new law intended to significantly increase fines and fees for drivers caught texting behind the wheel.

Virginia already has a statewide ban on texting while driving, but a first time offender is only risking receipt of a $20 ticket. If this latest bill becomes law that same driver guilty of texting behind the wheel will pay a much more hefty $250. If they get caught texting behind the wheel a second time that fine will increase to $500, which will be the same penalty for anyone caught driving recklessly while texting behind the wheel.

Lawmakers in the state used information provided by the Virginia Crime Commission which showed that over the past three years, even with the previous texting while driving ban in place, incident of texting while driving steadily increased. The VCC said that more than 500 citations for texting while driving were issued and more than 400 of those people pleaded guilty.

This information, coupled with national statistics which indicate that distracted driving rates are going up every where was enough of an impetus for them to re-examine the existing law and make distracted driving less attractive to people driving in the state.

The new distracted driving law easily passed both houses in Virginia, garnering significant support from members of both parties. This, coupled with a massive amount of public support, means it is very likely to be signed into law by the governor. That means for anyone driving in Virginia, or even through Virginia, trying to send or read a text while you are driving is a much more risky behavior than it’s ever been before.