A breakdown of new laws that take effect Jan. 1 in Virginia


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As the world wakes up to a new year, the Commonwealth is waking up to a number of new laws. Here’s a breakdown of them.

Hands-Free Law

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, it will be illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. A first offense carries a $125 fine and for a second offense, a driver will be fined $250. Breaking the law in a highway work zone is a punishable by a mandatory $250 fine. You can still talk on your phone, but can’t hold it.

Related coverage: ‘It’ll save lives’: Local drivers react to Hands-Free Law going into effect Jan. 1

Limits on the cost of insulin

Under this law, health insurance companies and other carriers will be required to cap insulin costs at $50 per month. Lawmakers say it’s among the lowest in the country.

Surprise medical billing

The law impacts patients with health insurance who are billed for out-of-network services, like when an insured patient gets care from a provider that’s not in their insurance company’s network. The new law bans insurance providers for billing patients for out-of-network costs when they get healthcare from out-of-network providers.

Concealed handgun training

Beginning Jan. 1 under this new law, anyone who applies for a concealed carry permit will need to take a training or safety course in-person. Virtual classes will no longer fulfill the state’s training requirement.

Related coverage: Starting Jan. 1, Virginians won’t have the option to take a concealed carry permit course online

Misclassifying independent contractors

Also changing in the commonwealth in 2021 is independent contractor classification. Employers are now prohibited from classifying an individual as an independent contractor if they are an employee, unless they can demonstrate that the worker is a contractor. IRS guidelines will help the Department of Taxation determine if someone is an independent contractor. Those in violation of the law will be subject to fines and could be barred from public contracts.

Driver privilege cards

Undocumented immigrants who don’t meet Virginia’s legal presence requirements for a standard or REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in Virginia will be eligible to obtain a driver privilege card if they meet the following requirements:

You are a non-US citizen who is a resident of Virginia
You have reported income from Virginia sources or are claimed as a dependent on a tax return filed in Virginia in the past 12 months
Your driving privilege is not currently suspended or revoked in Virginia or any other state, to include insurance-related infractions.
A driver privilege card is not REAL ID-compliant and, as such, may not be used as identification to board a flight or enter a secure federal facility. Driver privilege card applicants are not eligible for a commercial driver’s license or identification card.

Related coverage: Undocumented immigrants eligible for driver privilege cards in 2021 under new Virginia law


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