You'll be able to take Fido to your favorite Virginia winery and hunt a raccoon after 2 P.M. on Sunday. But watch your drone spying! It will be illegal to use it to "coerce, intimidate or harass" another person. These are just a few of the hundreds of new laws going into effect on July 1st in the Commonwealth. But there are 4 super important ones Virginia drivers need to know.
1. Failure to Move Over for Emergency Vehicles Is Reckless Driving
Virginia has had a "Move Over Law" that requires drivers to move over a lane when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights. But Melanie Clark, widow of Hanover County firefighter Lt. Bradford Clark, has made it her life mission to bring attention to this law after her husband was hit and killed on the side of the road assisting another driver.
Virginia's new Move Over Law will treat a violation or not moving over a lane when approaching police, fire, or EMS with flashing lights as reckless driving, like driving over 80 mph. Both come with up to a year in jail or a $2,500 fine.
2. Kids Under 2 Must Remain in Rear-Facing Car Seats
All children up to age 8 must be in a properly secured child safety seat that meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.Virginia's new law requires children must remain rear-facing until the age of 2 or until they reach the minimum weight requirement for a forward-facing child safety seat.
All car seats must be placed in the back seat of the car. If your car does not have a back seat (pickup truck, older model car), the car seat can only be placed in the front passenger side and the airbags must be deactivated.
3. Unpaid Court Fees No Longer Mean a Suspended License
There are over 627,000 Virginians with suspended drivers' licenses because of unpaid court fees. Those drivers will be reinstated and drivers who are unable to pay court fees moving forward will not have their license revoked.
4. New Fine for Holding a Cell Phone in a Work Zone
A rigorous legislative effort to ban hand-held cell phone use in Virginia died in the General Assembly for 2019 but efforts will continue next year. Under current Virginia law, drivers are prohibited from using their phones for emails or texting, however it doesn't address various other dangerous smartphone uses while driving like talking on the phone,social media use, and video streaming. Virginia remains the only state in the region to not have a hands-free driving law.
It is, however, now illegal to hold a cell phone while driving through a work zone in Virginia.Work zone crashes have increased in Virginia in the past year with tragic consequences: injuries rose 6% and fatalities 20% and traffic crashes in general are on the rise.
Keep these new driving laws, as well as your safety and the safety of others, in mind after July 1st. Safe driving habits are not only good for Virginia communities, they also keep your insurance rates down.