It’s July 1st in Virginia. This means that the new laws passed by the General Assembly go into effect. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you must be careful not to accidentally break the law. If you are troubled by the passing of these new laws, don’t be. Just rest easy knowing that the Commonwealth of Virginia loves you very much and that these new laws are designed to protect you and not harm you (*sarcasm*). Here are some of the more popular changes:
“Move-Over Law” and Reckless Driving:
In recent years, it has been a violation of the law to not move-over into the left lane when driving by an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. This year however, the General Assembly criminalized the offense. Under the Code, drivers, upon seeing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, must “proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle or (ii) if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.” Now, a violation is considered reckless driving, a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
If you can’t keep track of Virginia’s car seat laws, you’re not alone. Under a new law, drivers “shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device of a type which meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation. Such child restraint device shall not be forward-facing until at least (i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.”
If you love liberty and autonomy, then you’ll enjoy Virginia’s change to its tobacco laws. In the past, one could only kill themselves through smoking cigarettes if they had reached the arbitrary age of 18. Now, Virginia has determined that only people who are at least 21-years-old can exercise this fundamental right. There’s a catch however: If you’re a member of the armed forces, you can still purchase tobacco under the old law. God bless, America!
Virginia has also enacted “knee-jerk” legislation dealing with animal cruelty. Additionally, there are changes to the advertising rules dealing with “Happy Hour” in restaurants and bars. If you’d like a full list of the changes to the Code of Virginia, please consult your law library, and give yourself a few months to read the 10,000 or so laws that may affect you.
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