Drivers with a penchant for texting behind the wheel, be warned – starting Monday, texting while driving will become a primary offense.
It's one of the new Virginia laws and tax rate changes that will take effect July 1.
On the roads, police officers will have the authority to pull over any driver they see texting or emailing from a mobile device. The fine for the offense will also be raised from $150 to $250.
But there are some exceptions.
You can still text or e-mail if your vehicle is parked or stopped, and you’re still allowed to use the GPS on your phone or in your car. Exceptions will also be made for drivers reporting an emergency.
Until now, texting while driving was only a secondary offense, meaning that you could only be charged if a police officer pulled you over for a different violation and then discovered you were also texting.
Penalties for repeat DUI offenders will also stiffen significantly.
If a person has been previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a DUI/DWI offense that left a person with permanent injury or a previous felony DUI/DWI offense, then any DUI/DWI offense will result in a minimum 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Drivers under 18 who have had provisional licenses for at least a year will also be allowed to have up to three passengers under 21 in their car, but only if they’re going to or from an activity sponsored by a school or a civic or public organization.
And while many laws will be taking effect, one particularly strange law that has been around for more than 100 years is being repealed.
If you’ve been living with somebody you’re not married to, you’ve technically been doing something “lewd and lascivious,” a misdemeanor according to Virginia law.
The law has been in place for 136 years, though it obviously hasn’t been enforced in a long, long time.
A house committee voted to repeal the law back in February.
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