New laws take effect today

Published 9:31 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A raft of new laws go into effect today, regulating everything from when a driver is allowed to cross double yellow lines to how teachers fulfill the requirements to renew their license.

Starting today, a driver is allowed to cross double yellow lines in order to pass a pedestrian, cyclist or another device “moved by human power,” such as a skateboarder, as long as it can be done safely.

That’s among a number of new traffic laws. Another new law qualifies vehicles that assist with traffic management or roadside incidents that have amber warning lights for the “move over” law, which requires motorists to proceed with caution or, if safe to do so, move into a lane farther away.

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Mopeds, bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles are also now added to the list of vehicles a motorist can be cited for following too closely.

In addition, when passing a stationary refuse-collection vehicle on a road with less than four lanes, drivers must decrease their speed by 10 miles per hour below the posted limit and pass at least two feet to the left. With at least four lanes and at least two lanes in the same direction, vehicles should pass in a lane not adjacent to the vehicle.

Another new law, which went into effect immediately after it was passed, allows Virginia residents convicted in federal court of drunken driving can petition the general district court in their jurisdiction of residence for restricted driving privileges, such as to and from work. There was no provision for that before — only for those convicted in state courts.

In the realm of education, teachers seeking to renew their Board of Education license will not be required to take a college or university course to do so. License holders need only complete 180 professional development points and all other renewal requirements set forth in regulations and laws.

Sen. John Cosgrove said he’s especially excited about a new law, formed from a bill he carried, that requires the Virginia community college system to give military veterans credit for training received in the military.

“Everything that is accreditable, he’ll get credit for so he doesn’t have to take those classes,” Cosgrove said. “He’ll save time, money and get into a job a lot faster.”

Cosgrove also sponsored a bill placing the burden of proof to justify a tax assessment on the municipality, not the property owner.

“If the city sends you an assessment increase, and you say, ‘Hey, it shouldn’t go up like that,’ now the city has to prove to you why they raised your assessment,” Cosgrove said. “That’s going to be an immediate benefit to the taxpayers.”

In an effort to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease, a new Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regulation takes effect today. Hunters are no longer allowed to possess or use deer scent or lures that contain deer urine or other bodily fluids. Infectious proteins known to transmit the fatal disease have been found in the urine of infected individuals, according to the department’s website.

They are still legal to purchase or sell in Virginia because they remain legal to use in other states. Possession of the materials also isn’t prohibited when it’s simply being transported.

Synthetic deer attractants remain legal.

Virginia also now has two state songs. “Sweet Virginia Breeze” and “Our Great Virginia” are the new official tunes.