Virginia introduces a number of new traffic laws this year

A number of new traffic laws have gone into effect in Virginia, including changes to the “move over” and DUI laws.

Virginia's already strict traffic laws are now a bit stricter thanks to a number of changes that went into effect recently. As WTVR News reports, July 1, 2015 saw some important new traffic laws added to the state code, including changes to the "move over" law and to the law affecting restricted licenses due to a DUI. While the changes may help improve safety on Virginia's roads and highways, they also mean there will be more opportunities for Virginians to end up receiving an unwanted and potentially costly citation.

Sharing the road

Many of the new laws address how drivers should share the road with other vehicles. The state's "move over" law, for example, has been expanded to now include any vehicle assisting with roadside or traffic incidents and management. If the vehicle has flashing, alternative amber, or blinking lights then motorists are required to slow down and, if possible, move over to the further lane when passing.

Likewise, drivers must proceed with caution when passing a stopped mail vehicle that has its flashing, blinking, or alternative amber lights on. When passing a garbage-collection vehicle on a road with less than four lanes drivers must slow to at least 10 mph below the speed limit and maintain at least two feet of space between their vehicle and the garbage truck. On roads that have at least two lanes going in the driver's direction, the driver must change over to the lane furthest from the garbage truck and yield the right of way.

Bicycles and restricted licenses

Drivers may also receive a ticket for tailgating non-motorized vehicles, such as bicycles and mopeds. At the same time, however, the state code has been amended to allow drivers to cross a double-yellow line in order to pass a pedestrian or human-powered vehicle (such as a bicycle or skateboard) if it is safe to do so.

As WAVY News reports, one change in the law may be of particular interest to those who have a federal DUI conviction. The change allows Virginia residents who have been convicted of a federal offense "substantially similar" to one of the state's DUI laws to petition their jurisdiction's general district court for restricted driving privileges. Restricted driving privileges may include, for example, being limited to use of a vehicle for getting to school, work, or church, or having to install an ignition interlock device. Previously only people who were convicted by a state court (whether in Virginia or elsewhere) could apply for restricted driving privileges.

Criminal defense

A traffic violation may not seem like a big deal and most drivers will probably receive at least one citation at some point in their lives. However, Virginia's traffic laws are noted for their strictness and in some cases drivers could be facing much more than just an inconvenient fine. Depending on the circumstances, the consequences could be jail time, loss of driving privileges, and even a criminal record. Because of the severity of Virginia's traffic laws, it's important to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An honest and dedicated attorney can explain how the state's code applies to a particular situation and how the potential damage from a traffic violation may be mitigated.