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3 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

New Virginia Driving Laws

There are many ways for Virginia drivers to stay safe and stay out of trouble with the police – some more obvious than others.  Don’t speed, don’t drink and drive, wear your seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t run red lights, don’t run down some poor sap crossing the street…  LOTS of rules that most of us really don’t have a problem following.  There are a few, however, that you may not be aware of that we’d like to mention now.  Below are some new driving laws that were inacted this year in the state of Virginia.

Dooring

Senate Bill 117 creates a traffic infraction with a $50 fine for opening a motor vehicle door when it is not reasonably safe to do so. Dooring, commonly used in reference to bicyclists, occurs when a motorist opens his vehicle’s door in the path of an oncoming cyclist or other vehicle. The impact can seriously injure or kill a bicyclist, not to mention scare the heck out of someone driving past, causing them to swerve and possibly hit the car next to them.  Before you get out of your car on the driver’s side, look carefully for approaching cars, bicyclest and pedestrians.  On the passenger side, make sure no one is walking close or riding their bike on the sidewalk.

Learner’s Permits

In Virginia, a person 15 years and 6 months of age is able to get their Learner’s Permit to drive with an adult.  That hasn’t changed.  But Senate Bill 555 of 2016 states that learner’s permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21 in the vehicle, with the exception of household or family members. The passenger restriction was previously placed on passengers under 18.In addition, provisional driver’s license holders under age 18 may no longer have more than one passenger under age 21 even if a parent is present. The passenger limitations on all provisional driver’s licenses also do not include household or family members. The initial license issued to any person younger than 18 years of age is considered a provisional driver’s license.

Both of these provisions are secondary offenses.

The law also changes the minimum learner’s permit holding periods for 18 year olds. Previously, 18 year olds with a learner’s permit had to wait a minimum of nine months before they could apply for a driver’s license. Now, they must only hold a learner’s permit for 60 days.

cellphone drivingCellphone usage

Learner’s permit holders may not use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device while driving, even if the device is in hands-free mode, except in a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.The following are a few other DMV-related law changes that were effective July 1, 2016:

Organ donors registered through DMV will remain on the registry unless they ask to be removed. Upon application, DMV will issue refunds of fuels taxes for fuels used in vehicles owned by a hunger-relief nonprofit organization when the vehicle is being used for this purpose.

For a list of all key highway safety laws in the state of Virginia, visit http://ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/bystate/va.html

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