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Traffic Safety Thursday: New Traffic Laws In Place July 1

23 July 2020


We were live in the studio today for Traffic Safety Thursday – our monthly conversation with Lt. Warren Gosnell from Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Today, we discussed a few of the new traffic laws that took effect on July 1, 2020.

HB 874 Handheld personal communications devices; holding devices while driving a motor vehicle, penalty.

Commonly referred to as the “hands-free law” effective July 1, 2020 – Enactment of this new law will be delayed to January 1, 2021, to allow for the education of Virginia citizens.

  • A. It is unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to:
    • 1. Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or
    • 2. Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.
  • B. It is unlawful for any person while driving a moving motor vehicle in a highway work zone* to hold in his hand a handheld personal communications device.
  • C. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
    • 1. The operator of any emergency vehicle while he is engaged in the performance of his official duties;
    • 2. An operator who is lawfully parked or stopped;
    • 3. The use of factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems (GPS) or wireless communications devices used to transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system; or
    • 4. Any person using a handheld personal communications device to report an emergency.
  • D. A violation of subsection A is a traffic infraction punishable, for a first offense, by a fine of $125 and, for a second or subsequent offense, by a fine of $250. A violation of subsection B is punishable by a mandatory fine of $250.

*Highway work zone means a construction or maintenance area that is located on or beside a highway and is marked by appropriate warning signs with attached flashing lights or other traffic control devices indicating that work is in progress.

HB 885 Reckless driving; exceeding speed limit.

Raises the threshold for reckless driving for speeding from driving in excess of 80 miles per hour to driving in excess of 85 miles per hour. The threshold for reckless driving for speeding for driving at or more than 20 miles per hour in excess of the speed limit remains unchanged. The bill also provides that any person who drives a motor vehicle at a speed in excess of 80 miles per hour but below 86 miles per hour on any highway in the Commonwealth having a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour shall be subject to an additional fine of $100. This bill incorporates HB 1374 and is identical to SB 63.

HB 578 Smoking; illegal in motor vehicle when a minor under the age of 15 is present.

Smoking in motor vehicle with a minor present. Expands the group in the presence of whom it is illegal to smoke in a motor vehicle from minors under the age of eight to minors under the age of 15.

HB 193 Vehicles used for agricultural and farm purposes; other uses.

Vehicles used for agricultural or horticultural purposes.

  • A. No person shall be required to obtain the registration certificate, license plates, or decals for or pay a registration fee for any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer used exclusively for agricultural or horticultural purposes on lands owned or leased by the vehicle’s owner.
  • B. This exemption shall only apply to (i) pickup or panel trucks, (ii) sport utility vehicles, (iii) vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 7,500 pounds, and (iv) trailers and semitrailers that are not operated on or over any public highway in the Commonwealth for any purpose other than:
    • 1. Crossing a highway;
    • 2. Operating along a highway for a distance of no more than 75 miles from one part of the owner’s land to another, irrespective of whether the tracts adjoin;
    • 3. Taking the vehicle or attached fixtures to and from a repair shop for repairs;
    • 4. Taking another vehicle exempt from registration under any provision of її 46.2-664 through 46.2-668 or 46.2-672, or any part or subcomponent of such a vehicle, to or from a repair shop for repairs, including return trips;
    • 5. Operating along a highway to and from a refuse disposal facility for the purpose of disposing of trash and garbage generated on a farm; or
    • 6. Operating along a highway for a distance of no more than 75 miles for the purpose of obtaining supplies for agricultural or horticultural purposes, seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, or animal feed and returning; or
    • 7. Transporting the vehicle’s owner between his residence and the lands being used for agricultural or horticultural purposes.
  • C. Any law-enforcement officer may require any person operating a vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and claiming the exemption provided pursuant to this section to provide, upon request, the address of the lands owned or leased by the vehicle’s owner for agricultural or horticultural purposes and the address of the residence address of the vehicle’s owner. If such address is unavailable or unknown, the law-enforcement officer may require such person to provide the real property parcel identification number of such lands.

For a complete list of laws in Virginia, visit: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/

To hear other episodes of Traffic Safety Thursday, click here.

 


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