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New Laws Taking Effect in 2019

On July 1 each year new laws passed in the General Assembly take effect. This year, several hundred new laws were enacted. We have compiled for you a summary of some of the new laws you need to know.

  1. Cell phones in work zones: Those caught using a hand-held cell phone in a work zone will face New Laws Taking Effect in 2019 - Altizer Law PCa mandatory fine of $250.
  2. Tommie’s Law: (named for Tommie the pit bull who died after being tied to a fence and set on fire). This law increases the penalty for all animal cruelty to a Class 6 felony, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison or a $2,500 fine.
  3. Suspended Driver’s License: Virginia courts will no longer suspend drivers licenses for unpaid court fines and costs. Driver’s licenses will be restored to more than 627,000 Virginians.
  4. Purchasing Tobacco: The age requirement for purchasing tobacco in Virginia has risen from 18 to 21 except for those on active military duty. Those 18 and over with a valid military ID will still be able to purchase tobacco products.
  5. Trooper Walter Law: When State Trooper Michael T Walter was shot and killed while on duty, his murderer received merely 36 years in prison. The new law changes the sentencing guidelines for capital murder. Anyone convicted of capital murder faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison or capital punishment.
  6. Surrogacy law: This law makes it easier for single people and same-sex couples to adopt children using surrogacy. The language has been changed from “a husband and wife” to spouse.
  7. Kings Dominion Law: new legislation now allows VA schools to open two weeks earlier as long as they permit a four-day Labor Day weekend.
  8. Heaven’s Law: Named for Heaven Watkins an 11-year-old girl brutally beaten to death. This law requires that caseworkers look back at least 5 years when investigating child abuse allegations to see if a child has been abused or neglected in another state.
  9. Child Car Seats: Parents in Virginia are now required to use rear-facing car seats for their children until they reach age two, or meet the minimum weight standards for a forward-facing seat.
  10. Eviction Relief: A bundle of new laws are intended to reduce eviction rates throughout the Commonwealth by
    1. Giving tenants more time to pay rent and fees ahead of an eviction notice.
    2. Limiting the number of legal actions a landlord may file.
  11. Violating the move over laws: Failing to obey the move over law is now reckless driving, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  12. Happy Hour Law: Restaurants may now advertise reduced price drink specials.
  13. Virginia State Police are now authorized to use handheld speed cameras in highway work zones.
  14. Passing emergency vehicles on the side of the road. Drivers must move over or slow down when passing police or other first responders on the side of the road. Failure to do so is now a misdemeanor rather than a traffic infraction for the first offense.
  15. Drunk Driving and Boating penalties now tougher in any event that causes a serious injury (rather than a traffic infraction) for a first offense.
  16. Electric Scooter Regulation: Local governments are now authorized to regulate shared electric scooter or skateboard companies. Scooters should be allowed to go up to 20 mph; they can be allowed on sidewalks; must be used on the far right of the road when riding with traffic.
  17. Courts can now dismiss tickets for expired car registration if the owner provides proof of registration before the court date.
  18. The DMV may offer special ID cards without a photo to people with religious beliefs that forbid them from being in pictures.
  19. The DMV can now designate on ID cards that someone is blind or vision impaired.
  20. Car inspection fees are increased to $20 (from $16).
  21. School bus drivers are required to get more safety training.
  22. Insurance companies are blocked from refusing to issue car insurance to foster parents or foster kids.
  23. Minimum Wage: Minimum wage exceptions have been lifted. This means that babysitters who work 10 or more hours per week now qualify for minimum wage rules.
  24. Clergy must report suspicions of child abuse to authorities, except in cases in which their religion or legal privilege requires that the information remain secret.
  25. People with autism will have better insurance coverage (the age cap has been removed).
  26. Assisted living facilities now must disclose whether they have a backup generator in the event of a power outage.
  27. A new definition of adequate shelter explains that a pet outside in the heat must have shade and a pet out in cold weather must have protection from the wind and some type of bedding. If pets are tied up, they must have a leash of at least 10 feet.
  28. Local governments may now ban two or more dogs from running off-leash together, which could carry a fine of up to $100 per dog.

We hope this update will help you to remain safe and observe Virginia laws.