I was driving from Cherrydale to Ballston, Virginia, last week talking on my cell phone to my brother, who was wishing me a happy birthday. Being a safe driver, I was using the stock headset that shipped with my iPhone so that I could keep both hands on the wheel and give maximum attention to my driving.
Two Arlington County police cars, operated by Officers Wright and Horvath, pulled up alongside me on Lee Highway and proceeded to follow me as I turned left and proceeded south on Glebe Road. Just before the intersection with Wilson Boulevard, Officer Wright turned his lights on and signaled me to pull over, which I did.
“License and registration.”
Mindful that I had two officers tailing me, I couldn’t think of any traffic laws that I had violated: “Officer, why did you pull me over?”
“Under Virginia State Law it is illegal to wear headphones,” he replied.
“I’m wearing the hands-free device that came with my iPhone,” I said, and I showed him my iPhone.
Officer Wright took my license and proceeded back to his cruiser.
Meanwhile, Officer Horvath came up to my window and asked to see my headphones. And I showed him the iPhone, the headphones, and the docking cable I have installed in my truck to play my iPhone or iPod through my stereo.
Officer Horvath then walked back to Officer Wright’s cruiser without saying anything.
Now considering that in jurisdictions like Washington, D.C., and New York, it is mandatory that one use a hands-free device with a cell phone, it struck me as very odd that here I am in Virginia being pulled over for using one.
Yet, as you can see from the picture of my summons, using a hands-free device in the State of Virginia can be legally problematic.
[John sent this story via email, and we reproduced it with his permission. He notes that he didn’t try to get out of the ticket, because he’d like to see how this plays out. -Glenn]