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Dozens of new laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year took effect on July 1, affecting motorists, cyclists, breastfeeding mothers and employers that want social media logins from their workforce.
New traffic laws:
- The Move Over law — which requires drivers to change lanes if they can when approaching stopped emergency vehicles on highways — has been expanded to include vehicles equipped with amber warning lights that have stopped to assist traffic incidents or to perform traffic management services. Drivers who pass a stationary mail vehicle whose amber light is on should proceed with caution and maintain a safe speed.
- Drivers can now be cited for following cyclists, mopeds and other non-motorized vehicles too closely.
- Drivers passing refuse-collection vehicles on roads with less than four lanes must slow down to 10 mph below the posted speed limit and pass at least 2 feet to the left of the vehicle. Drivers who pass those vehicles on a road of at least four lanes must pass in a lane that is not adjacent to the vehicle, and they must also yield the right-of-way.
- Drivers can cross double yellow lines to pass pedestrians and cyclists if such a move can be made safely.
- People who have been convicted in federal court of a driving under the influence charge may ask local courts for a restricted license. Previously, only people convicted in Virginia or another state court could do so.
Crime and drug laws:
- People intoxicated, under the influence of illegal drugs or who could be charged with simple possession of illegal drugs who report overdoses in progress and remain on scene can now avoid criminal charges. People who use this law must also cooperate with any investigation by law enforcement prompted by the incident.
- Law enforcement agencies may now administer Naloxone, a prescription drug that counteracts heroin and prescription opioid overdoses.
- Powdered and crystalline alcohol importation, sale, possession and use is now a misdemeanor.
- People charged with felony strangulation of a family or household member can now be denied bail.
- A mother may now breastfeed anywhere she is “lawfully present,” according to a new law. Previously, that protection only applied to land owned, leased or controlled by the state.
- Employers are now prohibited from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose the username and password to his or her social media account. Employers are also prohibited from seeking contact lists from an employee’s social media account.
- Law enforcement agencies that want to use unmanned aircraft — commonly known as drones — must obtain a search warrant. There are exceptions for emergencies and training.