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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.