Has your cell phone rang in your car since the start of 2021? If so, did you pick it up and answer it?
Congratulations you broke the law for doing so. On Jan. 1, drivers cannot hold a cell phone while driving. It is a primary fine, which means a police officer does not need another reason to pull you over and charge you. The first offense is a $150 fine and the fines go up for subsequent offenses. Read more about the hand-held phone ban here and here.
The ban has five exceptions:
- The operator of any emergency vehicle while he/she is engaged in the performance of his/her official duties
- An operator who is lawfully parked or stopped
- Any person using a handheld personal communications device in order to report an emergency
- The use of an amateur or a citizens band radio
- The operator of any Department of Transportation vehicle during the performance of traffic incident management services
Anyone seeking a concealed carry permit in Virginia now must attend an in-person class. Online classes no longer work. More about the law here.
Other changes in laws:
- Protection from surprise medical bills: This new law aims to protect you from surprise medical bills that typically happen when a patient with a health insurance plan gets billed more than they are supposed to because of an out-of-network technicality. According to the State Corporation Commission, the law works by requiring insurers and providers to resolve billing disputes together, rather than just sending you a bill. It also requires medical providers to notify you about surprise billing protection. You can learn more here.
- Cost of insulin: Virginia-regulated health insurance companies will also no longer be able to increase the cost of insulin due to House Bill 66, which limits the charge of a 30-day supply of insulin to $50. Click here to learn more.
- Employers face penalties if they misclassify workers and independent contractors: The new law states that all workers will be considered employees unless the work demonstrates they are a contractor.
- Driver privilege cards to non-U.S. citizens go into effect on Saturday, Jan. 2: You are eligible to obtain a driver privilege card if you are a non-U.S. citizen who is a resident of Virginia, have reported income from Virginia sources or are claimed as a dependent on a tax return filed in Virginia in the past 12 months and do not have a driving privilege that is currently suspended or revoked. Learn more here and here.