New Virginia Laws That Affect Drivers

By Nancy B
June 24, 2024

 

New Driving Laws in Virginia: 2024

On July 1, 2024, a multitude of new laws will go into effect in Virginia as a result of the 2024 General Assembly session legislative actions. Of those, there are four law that affect Virginia drivers. Let's break it down.

Auto insurance requirement

As of July 1, 2024, it will be illegal to register a car in Virginia without state minimum liability insurance from a carrier authorized to do business in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This new bill not only requires all Virginia drivers to have auto insurance, it also repeals the state law requiring drivers to register an uninsured motor vehicle by paying a $500 fee.

If you are found to be driving without car insurance with the new bill, you will incur a Class 3 misdemeanor and your license and registration will immediately be suspended. Penalties for driving without car insurance include a $600 noncompliance fee, a $145 fee for the reinstatement of your license and registration, and an SR-22 filing requirement for three years.

Virginia cities can reduce speed limits

A bill meant to help reduce pedestrian deaths allows cities to reduce the speed limit to less than 25 miles per hour but no less than 15 miles per hour on state highways in either business or residence districts. Pedestrian safety advocates and the families of victims of pedestrian fatalities believe the ten miles per hour difference could mean the difference between life and death.  Prior to this bill, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street could reduce speeds no lower than 25 mph.

Electric vehicle fire training for all Virginia first responders

Virginia lawmakers have passed a new mandate in response to the growing popularity of electric vehicles and concerns about first responders' ability to safely respond to EV fires. The law requires first responders, including firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personnel, to receive specialized training on the fire risks associated with electric batteries in vehicles.

The training will cover the unique safety hazards posed by electric vehicles and the potential for electrical arcing during a fire and how to safely extricate occupants from electric vehicles and how to handle and extinguish battery fires.

Roadkill bill

In case you have a problem with the Virginia law allowing only those who hit a deer, bear, turkey or elk with their vehicle from being able to claim the dead animal during hunting season, starting July 1, 2024, anyone will be allowed to claim the animal at any time of the year for eating or as a trophy. This can be a big deal for hunters who happen on a deer or other animal killed by another's car collision, a top risk during the fall driving season in Virginia. Citizens are still required to report an injured or deceased animal to a conservation police officer or other local officer, who will then award the animal to the person.

New Driving Laws in Virginia: 2022

While there were no new laws directly impacting Virginia drivers in 2022, House bill 740 was implemented to address the rising concern of vehicle catalytic converter theft in the commonwealth. It is now a class six felony and may include a prison sentence of up to five years for willfully breaking, injuring, tampering with, or removing any parts of any vehicle, aircraft, or boat for any purpose without the consent of the owner. Additionally, the bill requires scrap metal purchasers to maintain documentation of lawful possession of catalytic converters at the time of sale or delivery.

New Driving Laws in Virginia: 2021

From 2021 legislation regarding balloon releasing, voting rights, and gun control taking effect Thursday, July 1, a few new laws are affecting Virginia motorists. To add to 2019's new driving laws, drivers in the commonwealth are seeing new definitions around the use of legalized cannabis in a car, changes in state auto insurance minimums, and driving with bicyclist safety in mind. 

Marijuana use while driving

While growing and possessing certain amounts of marijuana was legalized on July 1st, 2021 in Virginia,  consuming it in any form while driving remains against the law. That goes for passengers riding in the car as well. Violators will be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor charge and a $250 fine.

car keys and cannabis

This is not to be confused with HB 5058 and SB 5029 laws, which do not allow searches or charges for the sole reason of smelling the odor of marijuana in a car. However, any vessel containing the product not in “the originally sealed manufacturer’s container” is considered an open container that is still prohibited and grounds for charges. This law is similar to the commonwealth's laws regarding open containers, use of alcohol or other substances while driving, as well as impaired driving, all illegal in Virginia.

What about ridesharing and other transportation services? Hired drivers, including school bus drivers, may not carry any marijuana, closed and put away or not, or can face a Class 1 Misdemeanor. While a rideshare driver is not held responsible for passengers carrying and using cannabis, it may not be legally consumed while riding with the service. 

 

rideshare

Virginia state minimum insurance limits 

You may be wondering if cheap car insurance is worth it in Virginia. Another new law impacting Virginia drivers sheds light on the answer to that question, as well as the exponential cost of speeding and traffic collisions. Currently, the minimum Virginia car insurance coverage requirement is $25,000 in bodily injury and death to one person and $50,000 in bodily injury and death for two or more people.

 

Car Crash with Airbags

 

Beginning July 1, 2021, Virginia's new law requires car insurance policies effective January 1, 2022, through January 1, 2025, to increase bodily injury and death minimums to $30,000 and $60,000, respectively. After January 1, 2025, new policies will increase to $50,000 for one person and $100,000 for two or more people with bodily injury or death in a car crash. 

Cyclist laws that affect Virginia drivers

Another new law that went into effect on July 1, 2021, brings attention to bicycle safety in Virginia and hopes to reduce the number of crashes between vehicles and cyclists. Our current law requires the motorist to provide a safe distance of three feet when passing a bicyclist, skateboard, or scooter.

Group of bicyclists on road

The new law requires drivers to change lanes to maintain the three feet of space when passing, crossing the yellow line if needed to "share the road." It also ends the requirement for multiple bicyclists to file into a single line when being passed by vehicles. Cyclists can now continue to ride side-by-side in pairs along a single lane even as drivers approach and pass. Hopefully, these new laws will offer more freedom and protection for bicyclists on the road.  

Be safe on Virginia roads this summer and the rest of the year. Remember Virginia's newly enforced hands-free driving law. While you may be more focused on saving money on gas, you can save money on your car insurance by driving safely and following Virginia's driving laws. 

New Driving Laws in Virginia: 2020

As we move towards legislation that bans the handheld use of cell phones, there are also a few other new laws that will immediately affect daily life and driving around the commonwealth.

Ban on Handheld Phones and More

House bill 874 establishes the first total ban on the use of handheld devices when driving with Virginia's new Hands-Free Cell Phone Driving Law. That includes phones and any other handheld device. Previously, Virginia law only prohibited reading or sending texts or emails while driving in a work zone.

Safe Speed Pedestrian Data NHTSA

Virginia drivers must stop for pedestrians

Did you think this was already a law? Good for you! All vehicle drivers must now stop (not just yield) for pedestrians in a crosswalk, even if they aren’t in the driver's lane yet. Drivers behind you who don’t know the law may honk. That’s okay! Keep your cool and let them honk while you ensure that all community members cross safely.

 Driving more than 85 mph is reckless

This new law raises the threshold for reckless driving from 80 mph to 85 mph. Keep in mind, it's reckless driving if you exceed 20 mph over the posted speed limit. That means if the posted speed limit is 55 mph, you can be ticketed for driving over 75. The bill also stipulates a $100 fine for drivers exceeding 80 mph but under 86 mph on highways in VA with max speed limits of 65 mph.

This is a good time to remind everyone that speed kills. The 2019 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts Study reported over 24,000 speed-related crashes in the commonwealth. Those resulted in more than 13,000 injuries and 349 fatalities. Speeding can also translate to dings on your driving record and expensive tickets. On average, a speeding ticket in Virginia costs between $350–$400 after you add in taxes and fees. They also add points to your license, as follows:

  • 3 Demerit Points: If you're found to be driving between 1–9 MPH over the posted speed limit.
  • 4 Demerit Points: If you're found to be driving between 10–19 MPH over the posted speed limit.
  • 6 Demerit Points: If you were found driving more than 20 MPH over the posted speed limit. 

Speeding-related crashes, tickets, and points translate to higher car insurance premiums, so the best way to save money on your insurance is to drive safely and have the record to show for it. 

 

Photo Speed-Monitoring Devices

Another new law related to speeding in the commonwealth allows Virginia police to use photo speed-monitoring devices in or around school crossings and highway work zones. A $100 civil penalty will be given for drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at 10 or more mph. Summonses issued by mail will not go on your DMV transcript while those issued by officers will.

There are a plethora of other new laws for Virginia beginning on July 1, 2020, as well as the beginning of Phase 3 of Northam's Forward Virginia reopening plan. We wish you safe driving and wellness!

 

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