Several bills pertaining to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) passed by the 2021 General Assembly and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam are now in effect.
Motorists are now required to change lanes when passing a bicyclist if the lane of travel is not wide enough to accommodate three feet in distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle.
Before, motorists were not required to move into the other lane when passing a bicyclist to ensure at least three feet of distance between the bicyclist and the overtaking vehicle.
In addition to bicycles, the new provision also applies to people riding on an electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, animal or animal-drawn vehicle.
“This law increases safety for bicyclists by providing more space between them and much larger vehicles when motorists pass on our roadways,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “We all share our roads, and we all share the responsibility to look out for each other.”
The new law also removes restrictions on bicyclists riding two abreast. This provision applies to people riding on an electric personal assistive mobility devices or motorized skateboards or scooters.
Other new laws include:
*Expansion of voluntary disability indicator on vehicle registrations, which allows vehicle owners whose vehicle is regularly occupied by a person who has a communication impairment, such as autism, to voluntarily indicate so on their vehicle registration. Currently, this indicator only applies to vehicle owners who have a disability. This indication on the registration alerts law enforcement officers there may be someone in the vehicle with a communication impairment before approaching a stopped vehicle.
*Removal of issuance fees for active members and retirees of the Virginia National Guard
Two separate bills remove the fee for the issuance of a special license plate for retired and active members of the Virginia National Guard. Patroned by Del. Wendell Walker, House Bill 1796 removes the issuance fee for the retired National Guard license plate for retired members of the Virginia National Guard. House Bill 2261, patroned by Del. Scott Wyatt, removes the issuance fee for one set of National Guard plates for those currently serving in the Virginia National Guard.
*Special license plates for recipients of military decorations allows persons who are recipients of certain military medals in honor of their service beyond the normal call of duty to obtain special license plates corresponding to their medal from the DMV upon showing proof they are the recipient of such a medal. In addition, the bill establishes a uniform fee structure for the cost of special license plates for recipients of a military decoration based on the order of precedence of such military decoration as determined by the federal Department of Defense or other relevant federal agency. Un–remarried surviving spouses also can obtain the plates with proof their spouse was a recipient of one of these medals.
*Ducks Unlimited license plate becomes revenue sharing, changes the current Ducks Unlimited license plate to a revenue-sharing special license plate. Currently, holders of this license plate pay a $10 annual fee. This bill increases the annual fee to $25. As a revenue-sharing plate, $15 of the $25 fee will be transferred to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to support its wetlands and waterfowl habitat programs in Virginia.