We don’t practice law passively here at PJI Law – we pride ourselves on keeping up with the latest laws in order to gain as big of an advantage as possible in our clients’ cases. And as we welcome the year 2017, we take a look back at some of the most interesting laws enacted in Virginia in the year 2016. If you wish to read more about new laws, click here to visit a summary of some of the legislation put together by the Virginia General Assembly’s Division of Legislative Services.
But for a quicker read, here are some of the news laws that most caught our attention (please note that these are incomplete summaries):
1. Marriage: You now have to be 18 years old or emancipated in order to get married. Previously, you could marry at 16 with the consent or a parent and even earlier in case of pregnancy.
2. Asset Forfeiture: The law makes it more difficult for the government to convince the court that property is subject to forfeiture in civil asset forfeiture cases.
3. Dogs: Hide your chickens – rather than being killed or removed to another state, dogs who injure or kill poultry now face milder consequences, such as microchipping or transfer to another owner.
4. Smoking: Smoking in a car with a minor who is eight years old or younger now earns you a $100 fine.
5. Public Schools: Effective in the fall of 2018, the law requires an average of 100 minutes of physical activity per week for students in grades kindergarten through five. This compares with the current 150 minutes required for students in grades six through twelve.
6. Car Doors: Virginia legislators actually deemed it necessary to pass a law that says that you cannot open your car door on the side of moving traffic unless it is “reasonably safe to do so”.
7. Medical Services: If you will be receiving a medical service/procedure at a hospital, and if you request at least three days before the service an estimate of the cost for which you will be responsible, the hospital is required by law to give you the estimate.
8. Social Media: No college or university may require a student to disclose login information for the student’s social media accounts. An exception is made for campus police officers performing official duties.
9. Protective Orders: The penalty for an individual possessing a firearm while subject to a protective order for family abuse has been elevated from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony.
10. Guardianship: No guardian may unreasonably restrict an incapacitated person’s interaction with others with whom the person has an established relationship.
11. Alcohol: As we slowly move away from nineteenth-century liquor laws, ABC liquor stores may open at noon on Sundays, which is an hour earlier than before, as well as on New Year’s Day.
12. Hunting: The new law makes it specifically legal to hunt wild animals with slingshots where shooting is permitted. Exceptions are made for deer, bear, elk, and turkey.
13. Fantasy Sports: Virginia now requires the registration of fantasy contest operators to register with the government and makes them subject to various regulations.
If you have questions on how these or other Virginia laws may impact you, we stand ready to assist you.