A roundup of the new Virginia laws taking effect at the start of July
Each year, many of the bills passed by Virginia's General Assembly and signed into law by the governor are set to take effect on July 1.
In 2019, Governor Ralph Northam signed hundreds of new bills. A handful were given special exemptions to take effect immediately, but the vast majority go into effect this coming Monday.
Virginia had a lot of high-profile legislation passed this year on a range of topics, and many of the new laws could affect your daily life or the lives of your family and friends.
Here's a rundown of some of the biggest:
For starters, more than 600,000 drivers in Virginia will be able to hit the road again.
A new law will restore driving rights to drivers who have had their licenses suspended for not paying court fees. The new law will also get rid of the $145 reinstatement fee that drivers had to pay in the past. This law does not get rid of past due court costs, however. If a license has expired, the normal costs apply to get a new one. Learn more about that law here.
A new car seat law caught the attention of many on social media. This law requires all children in Virginia who are 2-years-old or younger to be in a rear-facing car seat or until they meet the minimum weight requirements for a forward-facing car seat. Your local fire department can help make sure the car seat is installed properly. Learn the details of the new car seat law here.
TOBACCO AND NICOTINE
Another big change is a law banning all people under 21 from buying tobacco and nicotine products. The law applies to cigarettes and liquid nicotine used in vaping products. However, it exempts active-duty military personnel. Learn more about the law raising the smoking age in Virginia here.
A law named for a pit bull that drew international attention for being tied to a pole and set on fire - Tommie’s Law - makes animal abuse resulting in the death of animal a felony in Virginia. The law ups the penalty from a misdemeanor to a class 6 felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500 dollars. This new law only applies to dogs and cats. Learn more about Tommie’s Law here.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving under the influence will now have steeper penalty, with a change to the way prosecutors punish people who drink and drive and seriously injure someone. It makes the offense either a class 6 felony or a class 4 felony, which comes with 2 to 10 years of prison time. Learn more about the stricter DUI law here.
HAPPY HOUR ADVERTISING
Restaurants with ABC licenses in Virginia can now use terms like “Thirsty Thursday” to promote happy hours. The House of Delegates and the Senate passed bills to give more freedom to restaurant owners to do so. Right now, bars in the commonwealth cannot use terms like those. State regulations designed that to prevent excessive alcohol consumption. Now prices can be listed, and any ad language is allowed unless it induces “over-consumption or consumption by minors.” Learn more about the happy hour law here.
Under another new law, Virginia will change the way gay, straight or single parents can legally have children using donated embryos. The law includes technical changes to clarify the surrogacy process and encourage would-be parents to use existing embryos. It replaces “husband” and “wife” with gender-neutral “spouse” to reflect the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage. It also eliminates the need for parents to go through the costly adoption process after the birth of a child from a donated embryo. Learn more about the new surrogacy law here.
Those are just some of the big changes with new laws in 2019. Here's a list of some of the other new Virginia laws that become enforceable on July 1. Click on any of them to learn more.