New driving laws go into effect today in Virginia ahead of the 4th of July holiday weekend. Here’s a rundown of what’s changed, and how to avoid getting a ticket.
Texting while driving
Texting while driving is now a primary offense. That means that Virginia police can pull you over and cite you if they suspect you were texting. According to AAA, drivers who enter multiple letters or text as a way to communicate, or who read texts or emails, violate the new law.
After pulling a suspect over, police may ask to see the driver’s phone to see if any texts were recently sent. Drivers may refuse. Without visual evidence, it would be the word of the driver against the word of the police officer in court. Fines for the first offense are $125, and $250 for subsequent ones.
However, drivers may still use GPS navigation or consult a voice assistant like Siri. The law also doesn’t prohibit scrolling through songs.
Here’s more info on the new law.
Tightened moped restrictions
Every moped1 driver must now carry a government-issued photo ID and wear a helmet. Riders must also wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles if their moped has no windshield.
Also, keep this in mind: By July 1, 2014, moped owners must title ($10) and annually register ($20.25) their vehicles with the DMV.
More on the new restrictions here.
Fewer passengers for drivers under 18
This law really only applies to first-year provisional drivers under 18 (and their parents!). It’s also a bit complicated, but here we go:
Provisional drivers under the age of 18 can only have one passenger who is less than 21-years-old in the car with them. After the first year, these provisional licensees can drive with up to three passengers under the age of 21.
However, driving with three people under 21 is only allowed if the provisional license-holder is only driving to or from a school-sponsored activity. But they can drive elsewhere if they’re driving with a 21-year-old licensed driver who is in the passenger seat, or if it’s an emergency.
All of these restrictions no longer apply if provisional license-holders have a license-holding parent in the passenger seat while driving.
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- 49cc and below. 50cc vehicles are considered motorcycles under law. ↩