New Virginia laws effective July 1: Here’s what to know

This Saturday, you may start to notice some of the work done in the General Assembly’s 2023 session.
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -This Saturday, you may start to notice some of the work done in the General Assembly’s 2023 session. Many laws passed are going into effect once the calendar hits July 1.

Much of the legislation passed will concern newer traffic safety laws, deceptive ticket sales and felony charges regarding stolen catalytic converters.

This weekend is when the “Move Over” law goes into effect. NBC12′s legal analyst, Steve Benjamin, says this is to help prevent deaths or injuries when cars are pulled over.

“Anytime you see any vehicle that is stationary on the side of the road, and it has any flashing hazard lights, or flares, or warning signs if you can safely do so and there’s another lane to move over to, you have to now move over,” Benjamin said.

Starting this weekend, if you do not move over, then you could be ticketed.

You also could catch fines for having blue headlights, as SB855 will prohibit using them on cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or any vehicle on the road.

HB1857, passed earlier this year, states deceptive ticket resales will be prohibited to deter fake tickets on the market.

People will also be notified before a 30-day free trial runs out, which leads to an automatic renewal service from here on out. These are laws that aim to protect the consumer.

Some new laws will have more serious punishments, like manufacturing or distributing fentanyl. Benjamin says this is due to how many deaths and overdoses there have been in recent years.

“It’s now been designated a weapon of terrorism, and the penalty for distributing fentanyl if you know that, say, a counterfeit pill has fentanyl in it, that’s now been increased. So enforcement is going to be much, much tougher,” Benjamin said.

Some laws are changing from misdemeanors to felonies if broken. Starting Saturday, it will be a felony to sell or purchase a catalytic converter that has been detached from a vehicle.

“The increase in penalties for the changes from misdemeanors to felonies occurs when the general assembly feels that a particular type of offense has become more problematic. And a stronger message needs to be sent to the public,” Benjamin said.

Staff with Allen Tire in Richmond say they’ve recently seen catalytic converter thefts go down.

Last year a law was passed that made it a felony to steal one. Now Allen Tire is hopeful those numbers will continue to decrease as this new law goes into effect Saturday.

“I think it’s a great move on, you know, Virginia’s part to just deter them from happening, you know, and if people realize that it’s not just a smack on the hand anymore, then hopefully, that’s gonna help,” Billy Allen with Allen Tire said.

Allen says for the last five to six years, they used to see cars every week without a catalytic converter. Now he says it’s only every few weeks.

“‘I would bet that the amount we’ve seen has been cut in half in the last few months if not more than that,” Allen said.

He says it’s a combination of education, awareness, safety measures and laws in place leading to that decrease. Benjamin says the laws the General Assembly passes are usually there to send a message if not fix a problem in the Commonwealth.

“The days of being able to steal a catalytic converter and easily convert it into cash, those days are gone now,” Benjamin said.