Hundreds of new VA laws in effect, including no smoking in the car with kids

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- As you pack up and make plans to celebrate the long July 4 weekend, there are hundreds of new laws, including some you'll want to get familiar with-- especially on the roads. Each year, new Virginia laws start on July 1, the same day that the state's new fiscal year begins.

There's one new law you've probably never heard of before, but it's something most of us may have accidentally done before-- called "dooring." It's when you open your car door into traffic, without looking to make sure that no cars or bicycles are pulling up alongside you to pass. Running into a car door is especially dangerous for bicyclists who could be knocked off their bikes and seriously hurt. Last year, there were 250 car door crashes in Virginia. The new bill establishes a fault in a dooring accident, so if a bicyclist is hurt-- the driver would pay the medical bills.

Another new driving law involves teens. Drivers with their learners permit are not allowed to have more than one passenger under the age of 21, except for family or household members. The old law put restrictions on passengers under 18.

There are also several new laws to protect children, including one the prohibits smoking in a car with a child 8-years-old or younger. The law states that anyone in a car who holds a lit pipe, cigar, cigarette or other smoking equipment will have to pay a fine of $100.

Local Delegate Sam Rasoul has three children of his own and says laws like this that protect children are important to him.

"Second hand smoke is so much more dangerous than the primary smoke," says Del. Rasoul. "What we want to do is make sure that a young child who doesn't have a voice is protected here in Virginia."

Another new law is using physical activity to keep our kids healthy. Each elementary student, kindergarten through 5th grade will now be required to have at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, or an average of 100 minutes a week. Higher requirements are still in place for older kids, all students grades 6-12 will be required to meet a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week.  New Virginia Laws:

18 to Marry: A new minimum age to marry was established as 18-years-old. The law gets rid of previous exceptions that allowed teens to marry at age 16 with the consent of a parent. (HB 703 and SB 415)

Booze: Virginia ABC retail stores can open an hour earlier on Sundays, at noon. The ABC stores can also be open on New Year's Day. (HB 29 and HB 30)

Cannabidiol and THC-A oil: A pharmaceutical processor can obtain a permit to manufacture and provide cannabidiol oil and THC-A for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. (SB 701)

Dogs: Any dog that injures or kills only poultry must be microchipped and either secured or transferred to another owner approved by the court. Previously, these dogs were killed or removed to another state.

Dooring: Drivers are required to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side of moving traffic. This includes waiting for bicyclists passing by. Violations lead to a traffic infraction and a fine of up to $50. (SB 117)

Execution: The Director of the Department of Corrections is authorized to seek new ways to get the drugs necessary for execution by lethal injection—keeping negotiations confidential and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. This will keep the companies that provide the necessary drugs protected from protests. (HB 815)

*The Department of Corrections will also be allowed to use the electric chair as a default method of execution for inmates sentenced to death if the drugs used for legal injection aren't available.

Exercise: Students in grades K-5 will be required to complete at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day or an average of 100 minutes per week. (HB 357 and SB 211) All students in grades 6-12 will still be required to meet a goal of at least 150 minutes per week.

Fantasy Sports: The operators of fantasy contests are required to register each year and pay a licensing fee. (HB 775 and SB 646)

Firearms: As part of a compromise with Gov. McAuliffe, Republicans passed a law which allows state residents with permits to conceal carry in most other states. In exchange, Virginia recognizes the conceal carry permits from those other states as well. (HB 1163/SB 610)

Firearms—Background Checks: State police are available to perform background checks for non-dealer sales at firearm shows if requested by any party involved in the sale. (HB 1386 and SB 715)

Firearms—Protective Orders: Anyone served with a permanent protective order must hand over all firearms within 24-hours. (HB 1391 and SB 715)

Flags: The law requires any state or local public body or school division to buy U.S. or Commonwealth Flags that were manufactured in the U.S., if available. (HB 1299 and SB 229)

Hemp: A person with a license to manufacture industrial hemp products can engage in scientific, agricultural or other research involving the applications of industrial hemp without prosecution. (HB 699 and SB 691)

Home Inspection: Home inspectors must be licensed by the Virginia Board for Abestos, Lead and Home Inspectors. They have until July 2017 to get licensed. (HB 741 and SB 453)

Hunting: A licensed hunter or trapper can make and sell products from wildlife they have legally harvested, as long as it isn't detrimental to public health or wildlife management.

Hunting—Slingshots: Hunting with a slingshot is legal now, except for hunting deer, bear, elk and turkey—as long as it's not expressly prohibited by local rules. (HB 1142)

Medical Bills: The hospital must supply a patient, who requests 3 days in advance, with an estimate of the payment amount they will owe for an elective procedure, test or service. (HB 905)

Service Dogs: Any person who knowingly fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest or sign to represent the dog as a service or hearing dog when it is not, will be guilty of a Class 4 Misdemeanor. (SB 363)

Smoking: It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of 8-years-old. (HB 1348)

Social Media and education: Higher education institutions, public or private, are now prohibited from requiring a student to give their username or password to any personal social media accounts. The law goes on to say that such a prohibition should not prevent a campus police officer from performing their official duties. (SB 438)

SOL Testing: Requires the Standards of Learning and program of instruction for students K-12 now include computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding. (HB 831)

Stalking—Repeat Offenders: Repeat stalking offenses committed within five years of a prior stalking conviction are punishable as a Class 6 felony.

Student Drivers: Learners permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21, with the exception of household or family members. The passenger restriction was previously placed on passengers under 18.

Telemedicine Pilot Program: A pilot program to help expand health care access to rural areas will be created by the University of Virginia and the Virginia Telehealth Network. (SB 369)

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