New Virginia laws take effect Sunday

Bills passed in the last legislative session become law July 1


From changes in traffic laws to laws that help police solve more crimes and even some focused on kids, hundreds of new laws have gone into effect starting today.

Every year on July 1, all of the bills that were passed during the previous legislative session become law. Here are some of the new ones to remember:

Drone Spying (HB 638/SB 526):
Be careful where you fly your drone. A new law says using a drone to coerce, intimidate, harass, spy or follow someone is now illegal. The bill also makes it illegal to fly a drone within 50 feet of someone’s home if the homeowner has asked the drone flier to stop. Any violation will be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor.


Boozy Bake Shops (HB 1602):
Dessert shops and bakeries could soon be mixing up their menu items as a new law allows licensed confectionary shops to prepare and sell desserts that contain 5 percent or less alcohol off-site. This includes items like wine jellies or alcohol-infused cupcakes. Baked goods with alcohol will have to be properly labeled.


Texting in a Work Zone (HB 1525):
Drivers will face bigger punishments for unsafe driving in work zones, especially texting and driving. The new law imposes a mandatory fine of $250 (up from the current $125 fine) for using a handheld device, like a phone or tablet, for reading emails or texting while driving in a highway work zone.


Rear-facing Car Seats (HB 708):
There’s a new car seat law legislators want parents to start thinking about now. The law requires kids under the age of two to ride in a car seat that faces the rear of the vehicle. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a traffic accident children are 74 percent less likely to die or be seriously hurt in a rear-facing seat. The law will go into effect one year from now,--July 1, 2019.

Legislators say they want to make sure there’s enough time for parents to make those changes.


Criminal Procedures (HB 1249/SB 565  and HB 1266/SB 566):
Two new laws will help police solve more crimes using DNA.

One law adds misdemeanor violations of assault and battery and trespassing to the list of offenses for which a sample of blood, saliva or tissue must be taken for DNA analysis.

The second law requires police to make a report of arrests for trespassing or disorderly conduct to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. That report must include fingerprints and a photograph of the person arrested.


Prescription Monitoring (SB 226):
In an effort to cut down on opioid abuse, a new law requires veterinarians who dispense controlled substances to report certain information about the animal and the owner of the animal to the Prescription Monitoring Program.


Computer Coding (HB 443):
Some high school students may soon be able to say “adiós” to foreign language as English language learner students who have earned sufficient scores on an advanced placement foreign language exam or an SAT II Subject Test in a foreign language can now take a computer coding class to fulfill the foreign language class requirements.


Unstructured Recess (HB 1419/SB 273):
Elementary school students will have more time to learn while they play under a new law that authorizes school boards to provide unstructured recreational time. Experts say such time can develop teamwork, social skills and overall physical fitness for students.

For a complete list of all new laws, click here.