Law enforcement officers may soon be making fewer traffic stops in Virginia.
The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill earlier this month that limits the reasons why authorities can pull over a driver.
House Bill 5058 is titled “Marijuana and certain traffic offenses; issuing citations, etc," and alters the current law in a variety of ways.
The bill stops law enforcement officers from lawfully stopping or searching anyone based upon the odor of marijuana.
The bill also prevents authorities from pulling over drivers if they were to see the following offenses:
- Driving with headlights off when they should be on
- Driving without working brake lights or a high-mount stoplight
- Driving without working tail lights
- Smoking in a car while a minor is also in the car
- Driving with an expired registration sticker (Until that sticker is at least three months old)
- Driving with an expired inspection sticker (Until that sticker is at least three months old)
- Either the driver or front-seat passenger not wearing a seat belt
- Driving with an obstructed view through the windshield, front side windows or rear window
- Driving with illegally tinted windows
- Driving with a non-working exhaust system
- Driving with defective or unsafe equipment, as defined in Virginia law
The bill is not just limited to cars on roads; it also covers acts by pedestrians.
If signed, law enforcement officers would not be able to stop pedestrians for the following offenses:
- People walking into highways where it’s hard for them to be seen
Concerns have been raised regarding the headlights clause within this bill and how it will be enforced.
Delegate Patrick Hope, who introduced the bill, told 10 News that allowing people to drive without headlights was not the intent of the bill.
He does not believe, as it’s currently written, that the bill allows for that anyway; however, he and other legislators are looking over the bill the make sure their intent is in line with what written.
Hope said that he has talked with different attorneys who tell him that someone driving without headlights can still be pulled over for reckless driving or suspicion of driving impaired.
The bill now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk where he can choose to sign it as is, or recommend changes and send it back to the General Assembly.