Legislation is prone to change over the years, as political authorities gain insight into the evolving dangers that are posed against the members of society. One of the states that are imposing changes to the existing driving laws is Virginia. As you prepare to get back out on the road this summer, there are several new critical rules of the road in Virginia to be fully aware of to ensure you continue abiding by the law when operating your vehicle.
- Handheld Mobile Devices, Including Cell Phones Are Banned While Driving
House Bill 874 imposes a complete ban on the use of cell phones and other handheld mobile devices while operating a vehicle. There is a single exception for drivers who are legally stopped, with the car in a parked position. This law is delayed in its effect, starting on January 01, 2021.
- Drivers Must Come to a Complete Stop to Yield to Pedestrians
No longer is it acceptable to allow your vehicle to continue rolling slowly toward the pedestrian who is crossing the street ahead of you. Drivers are now legally required to bring their cars to a complete stop when yielding to pedestrians. This must be done at the following locations:
- Any pedestrian crossing that is marked by lateral boundary lines, signifying a continuation of the pathway following a sidewalk.
- Intersections near highways wherein the maximum speed limit is 35mph or less
- No Smoking in Motor Vehicles that Hold Children Ages 15 and Under
Current legislation already outlaws smoking in a motor vehicle that is transporting children that are eight years old and under. This law extends the age to 15.
- Reckless Driving is Now Partially Defined by Operating a Vehicle Over 85mph
Standing legislation defines reckless driving as anything over 80mph, now this new Bill extends that threshold to be 85mph instead. (Keep in mind that the law recognizing reckless driving as anything more than 20 miles over the speed limit is still illegal.) Those found to be driving between 80-86mph on any highway located within the Commonwealth with a speed limit of 65mph are subject to a fine of $100.
- Driver’s Licenses Can No Longer Be Suspended as a Result of Non-payment of Fines and other Fees
Anyone whose license was suspended prior to July 1, 2019, as a result of non-payment, will have their license reinstated by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Those who are found to be breaking the current driving laws cannot have their license suspended solely due to the inability or refusal to pay fines.
- First-Time Offenders of the Breathalyzer Test Are Allow to Petition for a Restricted License
House Bill 34 allows anyone who is convicted of the refusal to cooperate with a breathalyzer or blood test to measure BAC can petition for a restricted driver’s license 30 days after their conviction. This license cannot be used to operate commercial motor vehicles, however.
- Certain Offenses Cannot Be the Cause of License Suspension
Your driver’s license cannot be suspended as a result of the following driving-related offenses:
- Stealing motor fuel
- Non-payment of fees that are owed to a regional correctional facility or jail
- Deferred dispositions for drug offenses and drug offense convictions
Keep these new laws in mind when out on the road to ensure you are following the law to the best of your ability.