Controversial Road Laws in Effect July 1

As of July 1, photo-red light camera designed to catch motorists running red lights will again be legal in Virginia. However, in the City of Falls Church, cameras used earlier at the four intersections will not get fired up until the fall, according to City officials. That’s because a new “request for proposal” process is underway to determine who will operate the system.

Falls Church was among the regional jurisdictions to make good use of the photo red-light system until a Republican-led committee in Richmond allowed a provisional law to permit them to lapse. It did so for two consecutive sessions until relenting this winter.

Hundreds of new laws that affect the Virginia public will become effective just after midnight this coming Sunday.

In another major development, public controversy has already arisen over new “abuser fees” targeting aggressive Virginia drivers with stiff fines. For example, under the new laws, a reckless driving charge will result in $1,050 in fines, a DUI, $2,250 in fines, and misdemeanor driving offenses, $900. Additionally, these new fees are only applicable to Virginia residents.

Whether you drive your car through a red light or not, you will break the law if you light a cigarette within 20 feet of a gasoline pump.
Likewise, smoking or having an open flame near where oxygen is in use in a hospital becomes a Class 3 misdemeanor.

While at the hospital, patients will now be able to have any visitor they want come to see them, subject to regular hospital visiting hours.
If you have laboratory tests done, you will be able to request that a copy of the test results be sent directly to you.

Testing for blood alcohol or drug content of those arrested for boating under the influence will now follow the same procedure as driving under the influence. Mandatory boat safety courses will also start to be phased in so that all motorboat operators must complete such a course by 2016.

The maximum fine for dumping garbage into a waterway will increase from $100 to $1,000, while you will no longer be subject to jail time for violating state park regulations.

The penalty for being twice convicted of cruelty to animals within five years will go up to a Class 6 felony.

It will also become a Class 6 felony for anyone other than a law enforcement officer to entice a firearms dealer to sell a gun to a straw purchaser.

A Class 6 felony will also be the penalty for a previously convicted sex offender who is present at a school or day care facility.

On-line learning leading to a diploma or GED will now be possible for those incarcerated in our prisons.

For students in regular high schools, the Board of Education has been directed to develop a technical diploma for those in career and technical education programs.

For students in community colleges, a new two-year college transfer grant program for those headed to universities goes into effect.

This program will provide up to $2,000 per year to Virginians who have earned an associate degree at a public two-year institution of higher education.

All institutions of higher education will now have to develop suicide prevention programs for students who exhibit suicidal behavior.

All psychological and other medical records of a prospective adopted child will have to be provided to the prospective adoptive parents.

The state police will be required to use automatic dialing technology to alert residents of an Amber Alert in their locality.

A program for the notification of a missing senior adult, similar to the Amber Alert system, will also be implemented.

Those over 65 years of age who are still in the workforce will no longer be excluded from the provisions of the minimum wage law.

Workers who become unemployed will also see their maximum weekly benefit increase from $347 per week to $363.

Finally, a comprehensive new law will go into effect to address the use of eminent domain by government entities.

Private property will only be taken when the public interest dominates any private gain and that the primary purpose is not private financial gain or expanding public tax revenues.