Wednesday, July 6, 2022

New Laws Go Into Effect Today Including Sales Tax Increase, Stiffer Penalties for Texting while Driving

Starting today, a number of new laws take effect in the state of Virginia, including a rise in the sales tax, a crackdown on texting while driving and a law that repeals a statute that criminalized any lewd and lascivious association or cohabitation between people who are not married.

Until now, the lewd and lascivious cohabitation statute meant a misdemeanor charge.

“I do not recall it ever being prosecuted within this office,” said Nate Green, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Williamsburg and James City County. Ben Hahn, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for York County, said the same thing.

The new texting while driving law makes it a primary offense, meaning a police officer can pull you over for it if they see you engaging in the act. It was a secondary offense before, which means they could ticket you for it only if they had pulled you over for another infraction.

The fees for texting while driving climb monumentally under the new law — a first-time offender will pay $125 instead of $20 and a repeat offender will pay $250 instead of $50.

Historic Triangle residents can also expect a one-cent increase in sales tax, putting the rate to six cents. That comes as part of the transportation bill passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell earlier this year. The increased tax is meant to help fund transportation projects throughout the region, with .7 cents of the increase going directly toward Hampton Roads projects.

The transportation bill includes other rate increases, like an increase in the vehicle titling tax rate from 3 percent to 4.15 percent and an annual alternative fuel vehicle fee of $64.

Other new laws:

  • Anyone who buys a firearm for someone who is prohibited from owning one will be guilty of a felony and subject to a minimum of one-year imprisonment
  • Anyone who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI is guilty of a felony and will face a minimum one-year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine no matter when the offenses occurred. In the past, the fourth or subsequent DUI must have occurred within a 10-year window.
  • Local planning commissions must consider the effects of development on nearby military installations

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