New laws in effect this week


Law enforcement officials are reminding parents of the recent changes in the Virginia child safety seat laws and a new measure regarding cell phone usage by provisional drivers. 
The changes in the child safety seat laws, implemented by the Commonwealth of Virginia, have increased the age requirements for child restraint devices.  Effective July 1, 2007, the age that children must be properly secured in a child restraint device increases from five years to eight years.  Additionally, any rear-facing child restraint devices must  be placed in the back seat of a vehicle.  If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the rear-facing child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.    
Parents and teenage provisional drivers should also be aware of a new measure regarding cell phone and elctronic device usage while driving.  The measure prohibits the use of cellular telephones or any other wireless telecommunication devices, whether or not they are hand-held, by drivers under 18-years-old while operating a motor vehicle.  The new law also prohibits text-messaging and the use of PDA devices while driving.

Also on Sunday July 1, a new set of hefty judicial fees will take effect for misdemeanor and felony driving offenses. The offenses include charges like reckless driving, driving without a license and driving while intoxicated and are in addition to existing fines, fees and costs. 
For example, a reckless driving-speeding ticket (which can be charged at 20 mph over the posted speed limit) will cost an additional $1,050, and an initial drunk-driving offense will cost $2,250, for example. In addition, new fees will be imposed for Virginia drivers who accrue more than eight demerit points.