As with every year, July 1 brings about all the new laws passed during the preceding General Assembly Legislative Session. This year there are a few traffic laws that everyone needs to be aware of.
The most important change deals with distracted driving and texting while driving. The General Assembly has changed the texting while driving law from a secondary offense to a primary offense. What this means is that police officers can now pull over someone they suspect of texting while driving without observing another traffic infraction. The bill also stiffens the penalties for texting while driving. The fine for a first offense jumps from $20 to $125 and for a second or subsequent offense to $250. Additionally, if anyone is convicted of Reckless Driving while texting, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $250.
Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 operating with provisional licenses face new restrictions on the amount of passengers they can have in their vehicle and when they can operate the vehicle. Currently, a young driver can only operate a vehicle between the hours of midnight and 4:00 am if coming from a school sponsored activity. The new law adds to that an activity sponsored by a civic, religious or public organization and supervised by an adult. The young driver can only operate a vehicle with three or more passengers under the age of 21 in three situations. These are if (1) the driver is coming from a school sponsored activity, (2) one passenger is a licensed driver at least 21 years of age, or (3) in an emergency.
The final major change deals with mopeds and scooters. Starting July 1, 2014, mopeds and scooters must be registered with the DMV. The driver still does not have to be licensed, but must carry a photo identification card. Remember, when your license is suspended for a DUI related offense, you CANNOT operate a moped.
It’s important to keep on top of changes in the law, to keep you safe and out of court.
If you have any questions or find yourself in need of legal representation due to texting while driving or any traffic related issue, please contact WMMLegal at our office 804.423.1382 to set up a time to discuss your legal need with one of our lawyers.