Here’s a look at Virginia’s new DMV laws

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday that a number of bills that went into effect July 1 will impact drivers.

Using cellphone while driving banned in Richmond

These reforms include the following bills that were signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam:

Team Tommie Special License Plate

  • House Bill 593, patroned by Delegate Jeffrey Bourne, authorizes the creation of a new revenue
    sharing license plate honoring Tommie the pit bull. Tommie died in Richmond after suffering
    severe abuse. Revenue from the new license plate will benefit the Richmond Animal Care and
    Control Foundation, the agency that cared for Tommie. The license plate is in development now and is expected to be available to purchase in the Spring of 2021.

Voluntary Disability Indicator on Vehicle Registrations

  • Introduced by Delegate Cliff Hayes, House Bill 1666 allows those with a communication
    impairment, such as autism, to voluntarily indicate the disability on their vehicle registrations. The indication on the registration alerts law enforcement officers of the vehicle owner’s
    communication impairment before approaching a stopped vehicle.

Traumatic Brain Injury Indicator on Driver’s Licenses

  • Patroned by Senator Creigh Deeds, Senate Bill 289 allows Virginians with a traumatic brain injury to indicate the condition on a driver’s license. An applicant must request the designation and present a form completed by a licensed physician confirming the applicant’s traumatic brain injury.

Gender Designations on Driver’s Licenses

  • Senate Bill 246, sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell, allows anyone applying for a driver’s
    license or identification card to indicate one of three options when designating their sex identity: male (M), female (F), or non-binary (X). Customers with existing driver’s licenses or ID cards can also change the designation online at dmvNOW.com and request a replacement driver’s license or identification card. The fee for a replacement is $20.

Driver’s License Suspensions for Certain Non-driving Related Offenses

  • Senate Bill 513/House Bill 909, introduced by Senator Edwards and Delegate Hayes, removes
    certain provisions allowing a person’s driving privilege to be suspended or revoked. Those
    provisions include when convicted of or placed on deferred disposition for a non-motor vehicle-related drug offense, for non-payment of certain fees owed to a local correctional facility or regional jail, and for shoplifting motor fuel. The bill is not retroactive. Therefore, as of July 1, 2020, DMV will no longer issue suspensions and/or revocations for these offenses, but any suspensions and/or revocations already in effect on a person’s record will still need to be satisfied, including payment of the DMV reinstatement fee. For revocations associated with a drug conviction/deferral entered by the court prior to July 1 and still in effect, the person may petition the convicting court for restricting driving privileges.

Also effective July 1, DMV will implement an administrative change to no longer require that a
customer retake the driver’s license road skills test if their driving privilege has been revoked solely as a result of a non-motor vehicle-related drug violation. DMV will continue to require customers whose driving privileges have been revoked for motor vehicle-related reasons to retest in order to obtain a driver’s license.

New highway safety laws also took effect July 1.

Protection of Bicyclists and Other Vulnerable Road Users

  • Senate Bill 437 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to operate a vehicle in a careless or distracted manner if serious bodily injury is caused to a vulnerable road user. A vulnerable road user includes pedestrians, bicyclists, those using a wheelchair, those on skateboards or roller skates, those riding an animal or using an animal-drawn vehicle, and those using electric scooters.

Pedestrian Yielding Law

  • House Bill 1705 requires drivers yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing a highway by stopping and remaining stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped. When a vehicle is yielding to the pedestrian, vehicles approaching from an adjacent lane or from behind the vehicle cannot pass the stopped vehicle.

Reckless Driving Punishment

  • House Bill 885/Senate Bill 63 increases the fine for those driving between 81 and 85 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone. If convicted, the fine is an additional $100.

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