Shorties Roundup: Here are the deets on Virginia's upcoming ban on cellphone use while driving - DC


Dec. 18, 2020 1:27 pm

Shorties Roundup: Here are the deets on Virginia’s upcoming ban on cellphone use while driving

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the Commonwealth joins the rest of the DMV region with its new safety-minded law. Plus, here's what else you might have missed in #dctech this week.


(Photo by Flikr user Joe Le Merou, used under a Creative Commons license)

Starting Jan. 1,  it will be illegal to use handheld cellphones while driving in Virginia.

The ban went into effect in July, but it won’t officially be enforced until the beginning of the new year. Even though the Commonwealth is a bit behind the curve, Virginia joins the rest of the DMV region with this ban: D.C. enacted its hands-free driving laws in 2004, and Maryland did the same in 2010. Virginia first banned texting while driving in 2007, but this is the state’s first hands-free bill.

Smartphone users, this is your time to get more acquainted with voice command capabilities on your cellphones, like Siri or Google Assist, for simple tasks like changing the music, answering calls and navigating. Beginning in January, you can get a $125 fine on the first offense and a $250 fine for the second offense if you are caught holding your phone while driving.

Here’s Gov. Ralph Northam signing Virginia’s hands-free bill virtually over the summer:

Below are some other news tidbits, aka shorties, from the week, as detailed in DC’s daily newsletter. Get them delivered fresh to your inbox:

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Thursday, Dec. 17

  • Tysons, Virginia-based MicroStrategy recently raised $650 million in debt financing and it invested all of the proceeds into Bitcoin. This is the second time this year the business intelligence software company is investing in bitcoin after investing $250 million back in August.
  • If you’re looking for some weekend plans, consider attending Byte Back’s Bottles With Byte virtual event. Ticket purchases include an online wine course led by experts from DCanter who will be teaching attendees about three local wines. Register to attend here; tickets include three bottles of wine.
  • As part of the Comcast RISE program, 35 Black-owned, small businesses in the D.C. area are receiving support from the large corporation, which is providing them with consulting, media and creative production services. Some of the award recipients across the DMV are The Kitchen JerkDC Urban LivingOnyx Elite Hoops and Jasmine Rose Financial.

Wednesday, Dec. 16

  • Coronavirus update: As of today, there have been just over 25,600 positive COVID-19 cases reported in D.C. We’ve lost 720 residents to the virus, while nearly 18,400 people have recovered from it. Check out more data here.
  • Virginia-based cybersecurity company Cofense recently launched its Phishing Detection and Response platform for enterprise organizations after seeing an increased demand from large corporations for phishing solutions right now.
  • On Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1, schools raised more than $12.5 million in online and offline donations using GiveCampus’ school fundraising platform. The company reports that this was a more than 50% increase from the total funding raised on Giving Tuesday last year.

Tuesday, Dec. 15

  • Effective January 2021, cell phone use while driving will officially be illegal in Virginia unless you’re using a hands free device. Uh, late much? The Commonwealth is implementing this new hands-free bill to better protect new drivers on the road.
  • The Washington Post is working on launching its Lede Lab, a new six-person team that will be dedicated to working with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G. They will work with strategic partners to ultimately improve its storytelling.
  • McLean, Virginia-based software solutions provider Kajeet and Amazon Web Services teamed up with GOODProjects to provide tech resources to D.C. area students. Kajeet donated 30 of its SmartSpots for the cause, which are controlled Wi-Fi hotspots with unlimited data plans.

Monday, Dec. 14

  • Nonprofits have raised more than $2 million using Arlington, Virginia-based DonorSee’s video fundraising platform. Donors can engage with nonprofits through videos, Q&A’s, reviews and more, giving them a more personal feel for where their money goes. DonorSee is currently accepting new nonprofits to join its platform.
  • Recently, Mayor Muriel Bowser advised D.C. residents to better protect themselves from online and phone scams that have been targeting social security numbers and other sensitive information. This warning comes after the District government discovered an increase in these type of scams over the past few months.
  • Revolution CEO Steve Case and former U.S. Rep John Delaney authored this opinion piece about how President-elect Joe Biden’s administration can better support entrepreneurship across the nation. The article also calls on the federal government to provide entrepreneurs with more financial resources through these hard times.



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