Several laws of interest take effect July 1 in Virginia

| 6/29/2007

When the calendar turns over to Sunday, July 1, several new laws of interest to truckers will take effect in Virginia, including increases in the per-gallon diesel tax and other truck-related fees and fines.

The new provisions are in the state’s transportation funding law, which is predicted to generate about $525 million annually and authorizes up to $3 billion in long-term borrowing. It relies largely on higher fees, fines and taxes.

Commercial drivers found with overweight trucks will face increased penalties. Heavy truck and trailer registration fees will also increase. Perhaps the most notable change for truckers will be the increase in the state’s 16-cents-per-gallon tax on diesel to 17.5 cents – the same amount charged for gasoline.

Another element of the funding plan relies on higher fines for the state’s worst drivers. Persistently bad drivers will face fines that could reach several hundred dollars.

Another new law is intended to target alcohol-related reckless drivers. It requires those who had their driver’s license suspended for reckless driving for alcohol-related or drug-related reasons to complete an alcohol safety action program before they can have their licenses reinstated.

A separate law allows localities throughout the state to use cameras to catch red-light runners. Counties, cities or towns statewide are authorized to adopt ordinances to install cameras at intersections. Localities use of the cameras will be limited to one camera per 10,000 residents. Violators would face $50 fines. No demerit points would be tacked on to drivers’ licenses.

It also requires that localities post signs within 500 feet of intersections with cameras.

One other new law fines people who smoke or use an open flame within 20 feet of fuel pumps or fuel tankers. Offenders would face up to $500 fines. If a fire or explosion results, violators would face up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 fines.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor