As of July 1, 2019, there are new rules of the road in Virginia that all drivers must be aware of. Failing to follow these rules could have severe consequences for those caught in violation of them. In some cases, those penalties could include up to one year in jail.
“It is so important that all drivers understand what the new rules are,” says Andrew Lindsey of Price Benowitz. “Unfortunately, being unaware of the laws is not a defense. The new laws pertaining to emergency vehicles and cell phones are important and, like any new law, not everyone is aware of them.”
One of those new rules involves the use of a cell phone in construction zones. While using a cell phone while driving is not banned in Virginia, now even just holding one in a construction zone has a penalty of a $250 fine attached to it.
Another law that took place as of July 1 involves emergency vehicles at the side of the road. Virginians have always been encouraged to watch for these vehicles, and slow down when approaching them. Now, it is the law. When safe to do so, drivers must pull over when they see these vehicles at the side of the road. If they cannot move over, they must at least slow down.
Those found in violation of this law will face charges of reckless driving, a charge equivalent to driving over 80 miles per hour. That charge is serious, too. Penalties for reckless driving include up to one year in jail.
While tow trucks are not considered emergency vehicles, they still often work in dangerous conditions at the side of the road. As such, drivers are expected to slow down or move over for them, as well.
However, those that fail to do this will not face reckless driving charges. Instead, this offense is treated as a traffic infraction. This offense does not include jail time, but could still get a person’s license suspended if charged. That suspension only goes into effect if the offense results in a crash.
These offenses are serious, and could result in marks on a person’s driving record, or even leave them with a criminal record. Those charged must speak to a criminal defense attorney that can help with their case.