New Virginia Laws Enacted July 1

This Tuesday, July 1, hundreds of new laws passed during the 2008 General Assembly session became effective. Perhaps first on the list for some, if you like sangria, then you are in luck because that wine and liquor blend can now be legally served in pitchers in Virginia restaurants.

If you smoke, then you are less likely to get burned now as the state now requires that cigarettes be “fire safe” and slowly smolder out if left unattended.
Remember those “abuser fees?” You know, that slick little way to raise revenue for transportation without raising taxes? Those fees went into effect last September and hit Virginians with up to $3,000 in extra fines over three years for bad driving practices.

Well, those of you with lead feet will not be punished so badly if you are caught now because we repealed those miserable fees.

But, drivers under 18 years old, beware. You had better be a tea-totaler when you drive because there is now have “zero” tolerance for you to drive drunk. If an underage driver is found to have as little as 2/100 of a percent of alcohol in his or her blood, then they can lose their license and get jail time of up to a year.

Regardless of your status as a driver, if you are just learning to hunt, then you can now apply for a two-year apprentice-hunting permit. But, if you buy a gun in Virginia, then you need to be a citizen or have legal presence in this country.

If you are here illegally and try to buy a gun, then you have now committed a felony. Likewise, you cannot even possess a gun if a court has ordered you into mental health treatment.

We will now publish annually a listing of the costs of 25 standard outpatient procedures and what each health care organization will pay for them. The Board of Pharmacy is now required to develop regulations for the donation of your unused prescriptions to non-profit clinics that treat the poor.

If you breed more than 30 female dogs for sale, then you are now defined as a dog breeder and you must get a business license and be inspected annually. If you are training a dog to hunt bear (no, they do not have to wear clothes), then you now have an extra four hours after dark in which to train them.

If you operate a moped faster than 35 miles an hour, no matter what time of the day, then you will be considered as driving a motorcycle and you and it must be licensed.

Where there is an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing parked on the side of a road, you are now required to move into the farthest travel lane from it. School bus drivers are no longer allowed to use cellular phones while the bus is being driven down the road.

We clarified what was thought to be the law, that a student may voluntarily express a religious viewpoint in class or on a written or oral assignment.

This being an important election year, we now allow pregnancy to be a condition for which an absentee ballot may be used.

To help mortgage borrowers, fees for appraisals or opinions of value must now be disclosed on the settlement statement sheet with other fees. Title insurance agents are now required to have at least 16 hours of instruction before they can obtain a license.

Those who operate or assist foreclosure rescues for profit companies with intent to defraud can be prosecuted under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The State Corporation Commission can now conduct criminal background checks on everyone associated with a mortgage lending institution. Mortgage lenders can now have their licenses suspended for failure to pay appraisal fees and fines were increased for mortgage lender license violations.

Lenders of high risk mortgages are also required to give borrowers a 30 day grace period if requested in order to work on preventing foreclosure.
Finally, the state legislature increased the weekly amount of unemployment benefits from $363 to $378. It becomes effective on July 6, for some reason.