New Texting While Driving, Provisional License, and Moped Laws Were Implemented July 1st
In the State of Virginia, three new traffic laws went into effect yesterday which impact all automobile drivers as well as operators of mopeds. Below, we’ll give you a breakdown of each of these three laws and what you need to know in order to avoid getting a ticket over your holiday weekend:
Texting While Driving
Probably the most controversial of the three, this new law forbids texting on a mobile device while driving, which has now also become a primary offense. This means that a police officer can pull you over if they suspect that you were reading or composing a text message while behind the wheel. After pulling you over, you may show the officer your phone in order to prove that no recent texts were sent or received. If you do not wish to do so, it will be your word against the police officer’s in a court of law. If you are found guilty of texting while driving, the first offense is $125 and $250 for any offenses following.
Drivers are still permitted to use GPS navigation, enlist the help of a voice assistant (such as Apple’s “Siri” for example), or change a song from your mobile device. Those who oppose this new law are concerned that it may allow police officers to profile individuals under the guise that the officer pulled them over due to suspicion of the individual looking down at a mobile device. It’s also likely that because of this additional primary offense, arrest rates of those caught driving under the influence are going to increase. While this law will likely reduce the number of distracted drivers on our roads, it doesn’t come without its own intricacies, and we would not be surprised if protocols were added to quantify how strong a police officer’s suspicion of texting while driving must be in order to pull and individual over. Proponents of this new law say that it’s greatest victory will be evidenced by fewer distraced driving incidents.
Provisional License Restrictions
Provisional drivers under the age of 18 are affected by this new law, which most predominately states that they can only have one passenger under the age of 21 in the car with them. Beyond that first year of driving, these provisional drivers can have up to three under 21 passengers in the car with them.
There are some exceptions, such as the allowance for first year provisional drivers to have three people in the car under 21 as long as it’s driving to or from school. However, if there is a person who is over 21 in the passenger seat, the first year provisional driver is allowed to have those three under 21 people in the car. It’s important to note that none of these restrictions apply if a license-holding parent is in the passenger seat, or if it is an emergency situation.
It’s probably safe to assume that the no texting while driving law applies to moped operators as well, and we also hope that first year provisional drivers won’t have more than one person (under 21 or not) riding with them on a moped. First, let’s clarify that a moped is a two wheel vehicle with an engine of 49CCs and under.
These new restrictions are basic, which requires moped operators to carry a government ID with them, and also requires that they wear a helmet (and eye protection if the helmet doesn’t have that feature built-in or if their moped doesn’t have a windshield). Also, in the next year, moped riders will be required to title and register their bikes by July 1, 2014 which will cost $10 (one-time) and $20.25 (annually), respectively. Vanity plates will also be available for an additional $10, also through the DMV.
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