VIRGINIA (WAVY) - New laws scheduled to become effective July 1, 2013, implement tougher penalties for those who are distracted while operating a motor vehicle.
Texting While Driving
Current laws include texting while driving as a secondary offense, meaning a person may only be charged if they are found violating another traffic law. On July 1, texting while driving becomes a primary offense, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety .
In addition to this change, the DMV reports, a person convicted of texting while driving will receive a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for subsequent charges. Currently, the fine for a first offense is $20 and any offense thereafter is $50.The new law also increases the penalties for a person convicted for reckless driving to include a mandatory $250 fine if the person was texting while driving recklessly.
This new law will not change the current hand-held devices law in Virginia, for which there are no restrictions.
Also effective July 1, any DUI conviction will be a class 6 felony if the driver has a current conviction of any of the following:
-DUI/DWI leaving victim with permanent injury
-DWI/DUI felony offense
A DUI felony charge also carries a mandatory fine of a minimum of $1,000 and one year in prison.
Provisional Driver's Licenses
Current laws restricts those who hold provisional driver's licenses (driver's licenses issued to people under 18), from driving between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. unless they are returning from their place of employment or school sponsored activity. Beginning July 1, the law will be amended to allow driving during these hours for additional reasons including coming from an activity that is supervised by an adult and sponsored by a civic, religious or public organization.This will continue to be a secondary offense.
Effective July 1, those operating a moped or scooter are required to carry a government issued picture identification card. Also, drivers and passengers must wear a helmet at all times and use a face shield or goggles unless the moped has a windshield.
Effective July 1, 2014 all mopeds will be required to be titled and registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
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