RICHMOND – Several new traffic laws take effect July 1 in Virginia. The 2015 General Assembly amended state code to increase safety provisions for traffic management vehicles, bicyclists, postal vehicles, and refuse-collection vehicles, among other initiatives.
Here are a few highlights:
Vehicles that assist with the management of roadside and traffic incidents or perform traffic management services along highways may be equipped with flashing, blinking, or alternating amber warning lights, qualifying these vehicles for Virginia’s “Move Over” law. The “Move Over” law requires drivers to proceed with caution and, if reasonable, change lanes when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways.
Drivers passing a stationary mail vehicle displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating amber light must proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.
Bicycles, mopeds and other non-motorized vehicles are now included in the list of vehicles for which a motorist can be cited for following too closely.
When passing stationary refuse-collection vehicles on roadways with less than four lanes, the driver must decrease his speed by 10 mph below the posted speed limit and pass at least two feet to the left of the vehicle. When passing a stationary refuse-collection vehicle on a roadway with at least four lanes – and at least two lanes intended for traffic proceeding in the same direction – the driver must pass in a lane not adjacent to the vehicle and yield the right of way.
Motorists may cross double yellow lines to pass a pedestrian or a device moved by human power, including a bicycle, skateboard or foot scooter, if such movement can be made safely.
In addition, a change in the law now allows a Virginia resident convicted in federal court of an offense substantially similar to Virginia’s DUI laws to petition the Virginia general district court in the jurisdiction in which he resides for restricted driving privileges. Previously, only residents convicted of DUI in Virginia courts or other states’ courts could petition.
A restricted driver’s license allows a DUI offender to drive for limited purposes, such as going to work or church, while his license is suspended. In Virginia, a conviction of first-offense DUI is punishable by a mandatory fine and a one-year license revocation. The installation of an ignition interlock device is a condition of receiving a restricted driver’s license. The interlock condition has also now been extended to Virginia residents who have been convicted of a substantially similar DUI offense under the laws of another state or the United States. The DUI-related changes went into effect immediately after passage earlier this year.