New Laws for 2021 in Virginia

SB 1406 / HB 2312 Marijuana; legalization of simple possession; penalties

    • Eliminates criminal penalties for simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older.
  • Modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana.
  • Effective July 1, 2021:
    • Simple possession of up to 1 ounce.
    • Home cultivation up to 4 plants.
    • Cannabis Open Container: It is unlawful for any person to use or consume marijuana or marijuana products while driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway of the Commonwealth or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven upon a public highway of the Commonwealth. Class 4 misdemeanor.
    • $1 million dedicated to evidence-based marijuana prevention and education programs, including programs focused on youth and college-aged populations.
    • $1 million dedicated to DRE training.
  • Effective January 1, 2024:
    • Retail marijuana sales.
  • Certain provisions of the bill do not become effective unless reenacted by the 2022 Session of the General Assembly.

SB1335 / HB 1846 License restrictions for minors; use of handheld personal communication devices

  • Eliminates the provision prohibiting someone with a provisional driver's license/learner’s permit to operate a vehicle while using a wireless communication device.
  • Under a different current law, all drivers, including those with a provisional driver's license/learner’s permit, are prohibited from holding a personal communications device while operating a vehicle.
  • In essence, this makes those with a provisional license subject to the same law as everyone else that became effective January 1, 2021.

HB 1918 Student driver safety

  • Requires:
    • (i) driver education programs to include instruction on the dangers of distracted driving and speeding and
    • (ii) a student to submit a standard application form developed by the Department of Education by which the student provides evidence that he possesses a valid driver's license or driver privilege card before being issued a pass to park a vehicle on high school property.

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HB 2262 Traffic regulation; bicycles

  • Requires the driver of a motor vehicle to change lanes when overtaking a bicycle when the lane of travel is not wide enough to pass at least three feet to the left of the overtaken vehicle.
  • Removes the limitations on riding bicycles and certain other vehicles two abreast.

SB 1336 Restricted permits to operate a motor vehicle; ignition interlock systems.

  • In any criminal case for reckless or improper driving where a defendant's license to operate a motor vehicle is subject to revocation or suspension and the court orders a defendant to enter into and successfully complete an alcohol safety action program, the court may issue the defendant a restricted license where the only restriction is to prohibit the defendant from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock system for a period of not less than six consecutive months without alcohol-related violations of the interlock requirements.

HB 1903 Local government authority; reduction of speed limits.

  • Authorizes local governing bodies to reduce the speed limit to less than 25 miles per hour, but not less than 15 miles per hour, in a business district or residence district.

HB 2119 Student driver education program; parent participation exemption.

  • Exempts students from the requirement to participate in the parent/student component of a school's driver education program who are
      • (i) at least 18 years old,
      • (ii) emancipated minors, or
      • (iii) unaccompanied minors who are not in the physical custody of their parent or guardian.

Commercial Motor Vehicle LAW CHANGE:
HB1850: Grants vehicles powered by electric batteries an addt 2,000lbs.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

  1. That § 46.2-1129.2 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
    § 46.2-1129.2. Further extension of weight limits for vehicles fueled by natural gas or powered by means of electric battery power.

    1. On any highway other than an interstate highway, any motor vehicle that is fueled, wholly or partially, by natural gas or powered primarily by means of electric battery power shall be allowed up to an additional 2,000 pounds total in gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits. To be eligible for this exception, the operator of the vehicle must be able to demonstrate that the vehicle is a natural gas
      vehicle, a bi-fuel vehicle using natural gas, or a vehicle that has been converted to a natural gas vehicle, or a vehicle that is powered primarily by means of electric battery power.
    2. On an interstate highway, any motor vehicle that is fueled primarily by natural gas or powered primarily by means of electric battery power may exceed the weight limits provided in § 46.2-1127  b̶y̶ a̶n̶ a̶m̶o̶u̶n̶t̶ e̶q̶u̶a̶l̶ t̶o̶ t̶h̶e̶ d̶i̶f̶f̶e̶r̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ b̶e̶t̶w̶e̶e̶n̶ (i̶) t̶h̶e̶ w̶e̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ o̶f̶ t̶h̶e̶ v̶e̶h̶i̶c̶l̶e̶ a̶t̶t̶r̶i̶b̶u̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ t̶o̶ t̶h̶e̶ n̶a̶t̶u̶r̶a̶l̶ g̶a̶s̶ t̶a̶n̶k̶ a̶n̶d̶ f̶u̶e̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶ c̶a̶r̶r̶i̶e̶d̶ b̶y̶ t̶h̶a̶t̶ v̶e̶h̶i̶c̶l̶e̶ a̶n̶d̶ (i̶i̶) t̶h̶e̶ w̶e̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ o̶f̶ a̶ c̶o̶m̶p̶a̶r̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ d̶i̶e̶s̶e̶l̶ f̶u̶e̶l̶ t̶a̶n̶k̶ a̶n̶d̶ f̶u̶e̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶; carried by that vehicle and (ii) the weight of a comparable diesel fuel tank and fueling system by up to an additional 2,000 pounds. However, the gross weight of such vehicle shall not exceed 82,000 pounds

information courtesy of AAA Tidewater Virginia and DMV Hauling Program

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