New laws taking effect in Virginia on July 1
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Summer has officially started, and with it, new rules to follow. Starting on July 1, Virginias can expect some changes to the way they drive and how they call 911. With a new extension to the move-over law and serious criminal charges to prank emergency calls.
This year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed hundreds of bills that were passed by the Virginia General Assembly.
Two of the laws that will be enforced on July 1st include an expansion to the current move-over law, and another is a new law with strict punishments for false 911 calls.
Morgan Dean with AAA says that the new move-over law expands the existing law that requires drivers to move over or reduce speed for emergency vehicles, to also be applied to everyone.
“We want to create that buffer of safe space. We don’t know why that person stopped on the roadway. They could be waiting for help inside their car, they could be getting ready to change a tire, they could be having a medical emergency. Every single one of them deserves some space to be safe and that’s what this law does,” Dean said.
He says this will save and protect more drivers who pull over on the side of the road.
“The danger starts at the roadside the moment anyone stops, and that’s what really what this is about doing is saving lives. Between 2016 and 2020, 28 people lost their lives on the roadside in Virginia. We want to see that go to zero,” Dean said.
The sisters of 49-year-old Angela Hurley, who was killed less than a year ago while on the side of the road, spoke out about what this law means to them and how it carries on her legacy.
“It’s been a little bit of a silver lining in the event of an untimely tragedy. For us as a family to come together and discuss changes in her name,” Angela’s sister, Latane Flanagan said.
“Nobody is invincible from this. This could happen to your loved one. You can save lives. Lives can be spared,” Angela’s sister, Alexis Wells said.
This common-sense change to the law was met with bipartisan support, and will go into effect before nearly 1.2 million Virginians start their 4th of July travels, according to AAA estimates.
Another important law is the punishment for “swatting” calls, or fake emergency calls. This new law will help emergency personnel not have to exhaust resources on false reports.
“I can tell you that seconds count. Seconds matter, especially in emergencies as you can imagine. Having our first responders be able to go to the scene of an emergency as quickly as possible saves lives,” executive director of the Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle County Emergency Communications Center, Sonny Saxton said.
This law will help ensure that the calls received are legit.
“A prank call is not a fun thing. A prank call has criminal penalties now. And in Virginia, we’re still encouraging people to call 911, or call your local law enforcement, if you see something that you’re unsure about or if you think somebody’s in trouble, call us. But if it’s a prank call, don’t do it,” said Saxton.
False calls will be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, and depending on the severity, it could go to a Class 5 felony, with jail time and fines.
Both of these laws are here to protect people all across the Commonwealth.
Virginians can also expect stricter regulations for hemp products, a ban on drones flying over prisons, online age verification for adult websites, police curfews, banning foreign adversaries from buying farmland, stricter penalties for child abduction, tax credits for firearm safety devices, banning modified blue headlights, and an official state pony, among many others laws that will go into effect this July.