New laws start this week

Published 9:56 pm Monday, July 1, 2019

As of Monday, hundreds of new laws passed in the Virginia General Assembly’s 2019 session have gone into effect.

House Bill 708, which was introduced by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, states that all children up to age 8 that are transported by car must be properly secured in a child restraint device, one that meets the standards adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Children must remain rear-facing in these devices until the age of 2, or until they reach the minimum weight requirement for a forward-facing child restraint device, as prescribed by the device’s manufacturer.


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Furthermore, all safety seat devices must be placed in the back seat of the car. The safety seat can be placed in the front passenger seat if the car in question doesn’t have a back seat, but only if the passenger airbag is deactivated.

According to a AAA Tidewater Virginia press release, the new law will bring Virginia requirements in line with the safety recommendations of many national safety organizations, such as AAA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Centers for Disease Control.

“AAA thanks and honors Virginia lawmakers and Governor Northam for taking such an important step on behalf of the children who are riding in motor vehicles and who deserve to have every protection possible if they are in a crash,” Dr. Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia, stated in the press release.

HB 2170 is meant to deter scammers that use “false caller identification information.” Introduced by Delegate Emily Brewer, R-Suffolk, the new law makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor for a caller to display false caller identification information on the called party’s telephone, with the intent to “defraud, intimidate, or harass” the called party.

In an email, Brewer wrote that she introduced HB2170 “because there is a growing number of scam callers phishing for sensitive information that they turn around and use in committing crimes like identity theft and credit card fraud.”

“This bill makes it a class 3 misdemeanor to use false caller identification information to defraud, intimidate, or harass you and gives law enforcement another tool in their toolbox to deter scammers from calling in Virginia,” she wrote.

The following are more of the new Virginia laws that went into effect on Monday.

  • Drivers are prohibited from holding a handheld, personal communications device — such as a cell phone — while driving in a highway work zone, with certain exceptions. Violations are punishable by a mandatory $250 fine.
  • The age requirement for purchasing tobacco and nicotine products in Virginia has risen from age 18 to 21, with an exception for active duty military personnel age 18 or older with a valid military ID. This law applies to cigarettes and liquid nicotine used in vaping products.
  • Virginia courts will no longer suspend driver’s licenses for nonpayment of court fines, and more than 600,000 residents who lost their licenses due to nonpayment will have them reinstated.
  • The penalties for drivers that violate Virginia’s Move Over Law have increased. According to the law, drivers must yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways. A first offense was previously a traffic infraction, but now all offenses are considered Class 1 misdemeanors.
  • Bars and other retail on-premise ABC licensees are now allowed to advertise both the alcoholic beverages featured during a “happy hour” and the beverage prices. Creative marketing techniques are also permitted in advertising, as long as it does not promote over-consumption or underage drinking, according to a Virginia ABC press release.
  • “Tommie’s Law,” named after the pit bull who died after being tied up and set on fire earlier this year, increases the penalty for all animal cruelty cases to a Class 6 felony, a charge that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison or a $2,500 fine.
  • Any person aged 18 or older who is convicted of capital murder of a law enforcement officer or public safety official will now receive a mandatory sentence of no less than life in prison.
  • Any person that makes a threat to kill or injure any health care provider “who is engaged in the performance of his duties” in a hospital or emergency room setting is now guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • The Virginia Lottery is now prohibited from disclosing information about lottery winners whose prize is worth more than $10 million, unless the winner consents to the disclosure.
  • Virginia school districts may now open up to two weeks before Labor Day, as long as they provide a four-day Labor Day weekend.