New Virginia Traffic Laws
With every year comes new laws for drivers to learn about and get used to. Here are a few new traffic laws to be aware of:
- Your rights at traffic stops: Education programs provided through the public school system must instruct students on their rights and duties if they are pulled over by the police. Students should be taught police officer procedures during stops and appropriate actions they and the police can take during a stop. The hope is that this will not only protect drivers’ rights, but also decrease the risk of an escalating situation.
- Moving a vehicle after an accident: Drivers who are involved in an accident or breakdown that does not result in an injury or death must move their vehicle off the roadway so long as the vehicle and driver are capable of doing so.
- Failure to drive on the right side of the road. Virginia’s penalty for drivers who fail to drive on the right side of a highway and fail to observe traffic lanes is now $100.
- DUI blood tests abide by U.S. Supreme Court decision: In the U.S. Supreme Court decision Birchfield v. North Dakota, the court determined states cannot criminally punish someone for refusing a blood test under the state’s implied consent law. A state cannot require a driver to submit to a blood test without a warrant. However, states can still require drivers to submit to breath tests under the implied consent law. If a driver refuses a breath test, they can be civilly and criminally sanctioned.
- A second refusal for a breath test: Virginia increased the criminal penalty for refusing to submit to a breath test for a second time within 10 years of a previous refusal or DUI-related offense. A second refusal is now a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.
- Period of suspension for driving on a suspended or revoked license: If a driver’s license is suspended or revoked for failing to pay court-ordered fines then the suspension runs concurrently with any other suspension or revocation. If the driver is caught driving without a valid license and given an additional suspension when the underlying suspension is due to not paying court-ordered fines, then these run concurrently as well. These suspensions no longer run back-to-back.
- Marijuana exception for drug possession license suspension: Virginia law requires that individuals convicted of or put on deferred disposition for a drug offense lose their licenses for six months. However, there is now an exception for adults put on deferred disposition for simple possession of marijuana. Judges now have discretion in regard to the license suspension for this offense, unless the adult was driving at the time of the offense.
Have You Been Charged With a Traffic Offense?
If you have been charged with a routine traffic offense or a more serious traffic-related crime like a DUI, contact the Leesburg criminal defense lawyers of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 for help. We are eager to assist you with your case.