Every July, new Criminal and Traffic Laws go into effect in Virginia and can impact both those residing in Virginia and those just passing through Virginia. Here is a brief overview of a few of those changes.
Safety Provisions for Traffic Management Vehicles: Vehicles that assist with management of roadside and traffic incidents or perform traffic management services along the highways may be equipped with lights bringing those vehicles within the protection of the "Move Over" law. Virginia's "Move Over" law (Section 46.2-921.1, Code of Virginia) essentially requires drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles to proceed with caution and if reasonable, change lanes to put some space between your vehicle and the stationary emergency vehicle. This is a common sense safety maneuver and I encourage everyone to "move over" anytime you approach any stationary vehicle on the roadside - whether it is an emergency vehicle or not.
Bicyclists, etc. Get Some Protection, Too: Bicycles, mopeds and other non-motorized vehicles are now included in the list of vehicles for which a motorist can be cited for following too closely. Keep a good safe distance from these folks and pay a little extra attention around them. Remember, they are exposed so if something goes wrong and you hit them, they are far more likely to be injured.
Watch Out for the Stationary Refuse-Collection Vehicles: If it's a road with less than 4 lanes, slow down to 10 mph under the speed limit and give at least 2 feet of space to the left of the vehicle while passing. If it's a road with at least 4 lanes, and at least 2 lanes going in the same direction, pass in a lane not adjacent to the vehicle and yield the right of way. Essentially, as with the other stuff, just be extra cautious around these stationary vehicles. There are always people / workers in the area and you don't want to hurt or kill any of them.
Crossing a Double Yellow Line to Pass is Ok Sometimes: Motorists may now cross a double yellow line to pass a pedestrian and human powered devices (bicycle, skateboard, scooter) if the maneuver can be done safely.
DUI / DWI Offenders with Federal Court Convictions and Restricted Licenses: Virginia residents convicted in Federal Court of an offense substantially similar to a Virginia DUI / DWI offense can now file a petition seeking a Restricted License with the Virginia General District Court in the jurisdiction in which the offender resides. Prior to this change Virginia law only allowed offenders to ask the Virginia General District Court for a Restricted License if the conviction was in a state court. In Virginia, all DUI / DWI convictions trigger a license suspension and all offenders can eventually request a Restricted License. The length of the suspension and the period of time which must pass before one can request a Restricted License depends on whether it is a 1st, 2nd or 3rd offense.
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