Wow, it’s nearly ⅓ of the way through 2020: where has the time gone? Did you know that some major state laws took effect last July that have lasting and impacting changes for all Virginians? Your local law firm in Fairfax County is always here to help make sense of these changes and to answer any questions you may have about them. 

We’ll talk about these here so that you know that you’re up to date with the latest information, and maybe take a look at what’s to come! 11 new laws went into effect this past July that affect everything from buying cigarettes to absentee voting ballots. Let’s take a closer look!

  1. Regulation of Motorized Scooters or Skateboards

This law includes a maximum speed limit of 20mph for all motorized scooters and skateboards. It also designates localities (city/town/village) as the governing body over the operation of companies that provide motorized scooters or skateboards for hire.

  1. Driving Near Stationary Vehicles Displaying Warning Lights

You can now be fined for failing to move into a non-adjacent lane when approaching a stationary vehicle on a highway that is displaying flashing, blinking or alternating lights. This is the case unless changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, in which case the driver is to proceed with caution and maintain a safe speed.

  1. Tobacco and Vape Use on School Property

School boards must now develop and implement policies prohibiting the use of nicotine vapor products or tobacco products of any kind on any school property, including on school buses off-site and at off-site school-sponsored activities. This also prohibits possession of these products, and it requires policies that will help staff and students combat nicotine addiction.

  1. Rear-Facing Seats Until Age Two

Children must now be in rear-facing child seats until two years of age or are an appropriate weight to face forward. 

  1. Car Inspection Cost

It costs more now to get your vehicle inspected than it did before July of 2019. Costs went up to $20 from $16 previously. 

  1. Start of School Year

Schools are allowed to open as early as 14 days before Labor Day. Schools do still need to close on Labor Day. 

  1. Repeal of Driver’s License for Unpaid Court Fines

It is no longer lawful for driver’s licenses to be suspended for non-payment of court fines. This also reinstates licenses for more than 627,000 residents who lost them due to nonpayment. 

  1. Permits for Restricted Turns While Driving

This law makes it permissible for residents to obtain stickers or other appropriate vehicle designations through a program created by their local county so that they can make turns into or out of a designated areas when those turns would be otherwise restricted. The restrictions are in place to keep cut-through traffic from becoming a problem in neighborhoods; they do, however, unfairly restrict some residents, and this law changes that.

  1. No-Excuse In-Person Absentee Voting in 2020

Beginning with the 2020 elections any registered voter can vote by absentee ballot in person beginning on the second Saturday immediately preceding the election without having to give a reason or excuse for doing so.

  1. Handheld Cellular Phone Use in Work Zones

This law prohibits anyone from holding a handheld communication device in their hand while traveling through a highway work zone. Violating this law carries a mandatory $250 fine.

  1. Legal Age for Tobacco Purchase

The legal age required to purchase tobacco is now 21. There is an exception for active duty military personnel. Anyone under 21 attempting to purchase tobacco or nicotine products, and anyone who knowingly sells, distributes to, purchases for, or permits the use of tobacco or nicotine products by a person under the age of 21 can face penalties. 

It seems like an awful lot of new legislation hit the books pretty recently and, looking forward, we have a whole slew of bills being introduced that might affect everything from gun control to Daylight Savings Time to allowing medical cannabis in nursing homes. We’ll keep an eye on what’s coming up and keep you informed here at Tate Bywater, Attorneys At Law. Contact your local law firm if you have any questions about these new laws or anything else you might be concerned about. Your Fairfax County local law firm is always here to help.