Virginia New Laws 2024

The Virginia legislature has been busy in 2024. We have attempted to gather information about new laws that may be of particular interest.  Beginning July 1, 2024, the following new laws will go into effect in Virginia:

Cruelty to Animals; Possession & Ownership of Animals

Provides that any person convicted of felony cruelty to animals may be prohibited by the court from possession or ownership of companion or equine animals for life and any person convicted of misdemeanor cruelty to animals may be prohibited by the court from possession or ownership of such animals for a period of up to five years.

The bill further provides that any person who has his rights to possession or ownership of companion or equine animals prohibited pursuant to a felony conviction may petition the court where such conviction occurred for a restoration of his rights after five years from the date of conviction.

Hate crimes and discrimination; ethnic animosity, nondiscrimination in employment, etc., penalties

Provides that it is the policy of the Commonwealth to safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination in employment and in places of public accommodation because of such individual’s ethnic origin and prohibits such discrimination.

The bill also adds victims who are intentionally selected because of their ethnic origin to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery, or trespass for the purpose of damaging another’s property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense.

Higher educational institutions, public; admissions applications, legacy admissions, etc.

Prohibits any public institution of higher education from providing any manner of preferential treatment in the admissions decision to any student applicant on the basis of such student’s legacy status, defined in the bill, or such student’s familial relationship to any donor to such institution.

Jury Duty Age Requirement

Increases from 70 to 73 the age at which a person is exempt from jury service upon request. This bill is identical to HB 156.

Abuse and neglect of children; causing or enabling child to gain possession of a firearm, penalty

“Lucia’s Law”

Creates a Class 5 felony for any parent, guardian, or other person who is 18 years of age or older and is responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 whose willful act or omission causes or enables that child to gain possession of a firearm (i) after having received notice of a preliminary determination, pursuant to relevant law, that such child poses a threat of violence or physical harm to self or others or (ii) when such parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of the child knows or reasonably should know that such child has been charged with, either by warrant or petition, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent of a violent juvenile felony.

Marriage lawful regardless of sex, gender, or race of parties; issuance of marriage license

Provides that no person authorized to issue a marriage license shall deny the issuance of such license to two parties contemplating a lawful marriage on the basis of the sex, gender, or race of the parties. The bill also requires that such lawful marriages be recognized in the Commonwealth regardless of the sex, gender, or race of the parties.The bill provides that religious organizations or members of the clergy acting in their religious capacity shall have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.

Deer, bear, turkey, or elk; claiming after struck by motor vehicle

The “Roadkill” Bill

Allows any deer, bear, turkey, or elk that appears to have been killed in a collision with a motor vehicle to be claimed by and awarded to any person. Current law allows a deer or bear to only be claimed by and awarded to the driver of a motor vehicle who collides with such animal.

European Honeybee

Designates the Apis mellifera honey bee as the official state pollinator. The bill also contains a technical amendment.

Xylazine; manufacturing; selling; giving; distributing; possessing; veterinary use exemption; penalties

Provides that any person who knowingly manufactures, sells, gives, distributes, or possesses with the intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute the substance xylazine, when intended for human consumption, is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Under the bill, any person who knowingly possesses xylazine, when intended for human consumption, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Under the bill, it is not an offense to (i) manufacture xylazine for legitimate veterinary use; (ii) distribute or sell xylazine for authorized veterinary use; (iii) possess, administer, prescribe, or dispense xylazine in good faith for use by animals within the course of legitimate veterinary practice; or (iv) possess or administer xylazine pursuant to a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian.

Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages & pre-mixed wine off-premises

Repeals the July 1, 2024, sunset on provisions that allow (i) distillers that have been appointed as agents of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, mixed beverage restaurant licensees, and limited mixed beverage restaurant licensees to sell mixed beverages for off-premises consumption and (ii) farm winery licensees to sell pre-mixed wine for off-premises consumption.

Auto insurance requirement

Repeals an option in state law for drivers to register an uninsured motor vehicle by paying a $500 fee. The registration does not provide vehicle insurance to drivers.

The bill requires every Virginia car owner to purchase auto insurance. Uninsured drivers will need to have car insurance, eliminating the previous $500 annual fee for registering an uninsured vehicle.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Virginia Program established

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides more than 2 million free books each month to children ages 5 and younger around the world, comes to Virginia under legislation that requires a nonprofit to run the state’s version of the early literacy advocacy program.

Establishes Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Virginia Program for the purpose of promoting a comprehensive statewide initiative for encouraging preschool-age children to develop a love of reading and learning whereby one reading selection, as defined in the bill, is provided per month to each registered child from birth to age five in each participating county at no cost to the family of such child.

Military leaves of absence for employees of Commonwealth or political subdivisions; professional firefighters

Provides that any person who is employed by the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth as a professional firefighter shall receive paid leaves of absence for up to 388 work hours that a leave of absence is required, regardless of whether such amount of work hours exceeds 21 workdays per federal fiscal year, during which such person is engaged in federally funded military duty, to include training duty, or is called forth by the Governor for military duty.

Under current law, employees of the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth are limited to an eight-hour, 21-workday cap, which equates to seven workdays for such employees working in 24-hour shifts. The 388-work-hour cap would provide leave for a little over 16 workdays for such employees working in 24-hour shifts.

Early childhood care and education; child day programs; use of office buildings; waiver of zoning requirements

Permits any locality to by ordinance provide for the waiver of any requirements for zoning permits for the operation of a child day program in an office building, as defined by the bill, provided that such facility satisfies the requirements for state licensure as a child day program.

Public schools; certain local school divisions; youth and community violence prevention; Community Builders Pilot Program established; report

Establishes the Community Builders Pilot Program for the purpose of reducing youth involvement in behaviors that lead to gun violence and increasing community engagement among public school students by providing to students who are entering the eighth grade and enrolled in Roanoke City Public Schools and Petersburg City Public Schools opportunities during the school year after regular school hours and during the summer months for community engagement, workforce development, postsecondary education exploration, and social-emotional education and development.

Child labor offenses; civil penalties

Increases from $10,000 to $25,000 the civil penalty for each violation of child labor laws that results in the employment of a child who is seriously injured or dies in the course of employment. The bill also increases from $1,000 to $2,500 the maximum civil penalty for each other violation of child labor laws and provides that such civil penalty shall not be less than $500.

Virginia Consumer Protection Act; mold remediation

Makes it a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act to sell or offer for sale services as a professional mold remediator to be performed upon any residential dwelling without holding a mold remediation certification from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Intercollegiate athletics; student-athletes; compensation for name, image, or likeness

Makes several changes to existing provisions of law relating to compensation of a student-athlete at a public or private institution of higher education in the Commonwealth (institution) for the use of the name, image, or likeness of such student-athlete, including (i) prohibiting any athletic association, athletic conference, or other organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics from preventing an institution, its supporting foundations, or an entity acting on its behalf from identifying, creating, negotiating, facilitating, supporting, engaging with, assisting with, or otherwise enabling a name, image, or likeness opportunity for a student-athlete; (ii) requiring each institution to develop and submit to the institution’s governing board or similar governing body for approval institutional policies or procedures that govern the compensation of a student-athlete for the use of his name, image, or likeness; and (iii) permitting any institution to provide assets, resources, or benefits as an incentive to individuals, companies, or other entities to provide money, benefits, opportunities, or services to an outside entity that supports name, image, or likeness opportunities for the institution’s student-athletes.

Legal age for marriage

Establishes the legal age of marriage to be 18 years of age and eliminates the ability for a minor to be declared emancipated on the basis of the intent to marry. The law completely ends child marriage in the state by establishing a minimum marriage age of 18 without exceptions and removes a legal loophole that previously allowed emancipated minors to marry in Virginia.

2023 New Laws

The following list reflects the new laws that went into effect on July 1, 2023:

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage — Va. Code § 38.2-2206

This bill was passed in an earlier session of the General Assembly but goes into effect on July 1, 2023.  The new law offers a benefit to Virginia motorists as their uninsured or underinsured coverage will now stack and be added to available liability insurance coverage.  For more information about how this law may be applicable to you, see our underinsured motorist coverage article.

Medical Marijuana – HB2368

Requires cannabis product labels to be complete, accurate, easily discernable, and uniform among different products and brands and that each label, which shall be included on the product and on the pharmaceutical processor’s website, (i) include (a) the product name, (b) all active and inactive ingredients, (c) the total percentage and milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol included in the product and the number of milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in each serving, (d) the amount of product that constitutes a single serving and the amount recommended for use by the practitioner or dispensing pharmacist, (e) information regarding the product’s purpose and detailed usage directions, and (f) child and safety warnings in a conspicuous font and (ii) comply with any requirements imposed by the Board of Pharmacy.

Marijuana Advertising – SB1233

Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to advertise in or send any advertising matter into the Commonwealth regarding marijuana, marijuana products, or any substance containing a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol or synthetic derivative of tetrahydrocannabinol other than those that may be legally sold in the Commonwealth. The bill establishes numerous restrictions on marijuana advertisements, including provisions that prohibit advertisements from (i) targeting minors; (ii) being placed near schools, playgrounds, and certain other places; (iii) being displayed at a sporting event or on a billboard; (iv) being misleading, deceptive, or false; (v) referencing the intoxicating effects of marijuana; or (vi) promoting over-consumption or consumption by minors.

Deceased Spouse Medical Bills – HB2343

Provides that liability shall not be imposed upon one spouse for medical care furnished to the patient spouse when such patient spouse predeceases the non-patient spouse. Mutual liability for necessaries; furnishing of medical care.

Health Insurance Tobacco Surcharge – HB 1375

Eliminates the authority of a health carrier to vary its premium rates based on tobacco use. Under current law, a health carrier may charge premium rates up to 1.5 times higher for a tobacco user than for a nonuser.

Virginia Retirement System:  Return to Work/School Positions – SB1479

Reduces from 12 to six the number of months for the required break in service for a teacher, bus driver, school administrator, or school security officer to return to work full time and continue to receive his pension under the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

Virginia Retirement System:  Return to Work/Law-Enforcement Officers – SB1411

Directs the Virginia Retirement System and the Department of Criminal Justice Services, in consultation with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, to analyze and report on options for allowing law enforcement officers to return to work as law-enforcement officers after retirement and continue to receive their retirement benefits.

Vehicle Headlights:  Blue Light – SB855

Prohibits the use of headlights on motor vehicles, motorcycles, autocycles, bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, personal delivery devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, mopeds, and motorized skateboards or scooters with aftermarket modifications that make such headlights appear as a blue light.

Rent Increases – HB1702

Requires a landlord who owns more than four rental dwelling units or more than a 10 percent interest in more than four rental dwelling units, whether individually or through a business entity, in the Commonwealth to, in the case of any rental agreement that contains an option to renew or an automatic renewal provision, provide written notice to the tenant notifying the tenant of any increase in rent during the subsequent rental agreement term no less than 60 days prior to the end of the current rental agreement term.

Strangulation – HB1673

Provides that any person who, without consent, impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully blocking or obstructing the airway of such person resulting in the wounding or bodily injury of such person is guilty of suffocation, a Class 6 felony.

Child Neglect — 1367

Clarifies that no child whose parent or other person responsible for his care allows the child to engage in independent activities without adult supervision shall for that reason alone be considered to be an abused or neglected child, provided that (i) such independent activities are appropriate based on the child’s age, maturity, and physical and mental abilities and (ii) such lack of supervision does not constitute conduct that is so grossly negligent as to endanger the health or safety of the child. The bill provides that such independent activities include traveling to or from school or nearby locations by bicycle or on foot, playing outdoors, or remaining at home for a reasonable period of time.

Stationary Vehicles – HB1932

Requires drivers to make a lane change or reduce speed when passing stationary vehicles that have activated the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers, displayed caution signs, or been marked with properly lit flares or torches on certain highways when safe and reasonable to do so and makes a violation of this requirement a traffic infraction.

Switchblade/Stiletto Knives – HB2298

Removes switchblade knives from and adds stiletto knives to the list of concealed weapons the carrying of which is prohibited in public.

Totaled Car:  Access Personal Items – HB1516

Prohibits towing and recovery operators from refusing to allow, consistent with current law, the owner of a towed vehicle, upon presenting proof of ownership, to access and recover any personal items without retrieving the vehicle and without paying any fee. Towing and recovery operators; vehicle storage.

Uninsured Motorist Registration – SB951

Repeals the option to register an uninsured motor vehicle upon payment of the uninsured motor vehicle fee of $500. The repeal has an effective date of July 1, 2024. The bill authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to continue registering uninsured vehicles from July 1, 2023, to July 1, 2024, but provides that all such registrations shall expire prior to July 1, 2024.

Pregnancy Expenses Shared Between Parents – HB2290

Provides that in the event that the initial petition for the establishment of parentage is commenced within six months of the live birth of a child, the judgment or order shall, except for good cause shown or as otherwise agreed to by the parties, apportion between the legal parents, in proportion to the legal parents’ gross incomes, as used for calculating the monthly child support obligation, (i) the mother’s unreimbursed pregnancy and delivery expenses and (ii) those reasonable expenses incurred by either parent for the benefit of the child prior to the birth of the child.

Assault and Battery Against Public Transportation Workers

Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person to commit a battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such individual is an operator of a vehicle operated by a public transportation service who is engaged in the performance of his duties. The bill requires the sentence of such person, upon conviction, to prohibit such person from entering or riding in any vehicle operated by the public transportation service that employed such operator for a period of not less than six months as a term and condition of such sentence.

Burial Fees for Military Spouses – SB924

Provides that, from such funds as may be appropriated or otherwise received for such purpose, the Commonwealth shall pay any burial fee for (i) a member of the National Guard and Reserve or (ii) a deceased spouse of a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces or of the National Guard and Reserve, regardless of whether such spouse’s death precedes or succeeds the death of the member or veteran.

Dentists Administer Botox Injections – SB1539

Provides that, in addition to the possession and administration of botulinum toxin injections for dental purposes, a dentist may possess and administer botulinum toxin injections for cosmetic purposes, provided that the dentist has completed training and continuing education in the administration of botulinum toxin injections for cosmetic purposes.

Removal of Immobile Vehicles – HB2191

Allows for the removal of certain unattended or immobile vehicles by the locality’s civil code enforcement division. Current law provides that such removal must be carried out under the direction of a law-enforcement officer or other uniformed employee of the local law-enforcement agency who specifically is authorized to do so.

Peeping or Spying Into Dwelling — HB1583

Prohibits any person from knowingly and intentionally causing an unmanned aircraft system to secretly or furtively peep, spy, or attempt to peep or spy into or through a window, door, or other aperture of any building, structure, or other enclosure occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure, or enclosure is permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy is permanent or temporary, without just cause, under circumstances that would violate the occupant’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

Renting of Uninhabitable Apartment – HB1635

Provides that a tenant may terminate the rental agreement and receive a full refund of all deposits and rent paid to the landlord if, at the beginning of the tenancy, a condition exists in the rental dwelling unit that constitutes a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health, or safety of tenants or occupants of the premises, including an infestation of rodents or a lack of heat, hot or cold running water, electricity, or adequate sewage disposal facilities, so long as the tenant provides the landlord notice of his intent to terminate the rental agreement within seven days of the date on which possession of the dwelling unit was to have transferred to the tenant. The bill requires the landlord to provide the tenant a refund of all deposits and rent paid on or before the fifteenth business day following the day on which (i) the termination notice is delivered to the landlord or (ii) the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, whichever occurs later, unless the landlord provides to the tenant written notice of his refusal to accept the tenant’s termination of the rental agreement, along with the reasons for such refusal, within 15 business days following the date on which such termination notice was delivered to the landlord.

Landlord/Tenant Act:  Security Deposits – SB891

Increases from 15 to 30 days the additional time period that a landlord has to provide a tenant with an itemization of damages to the premises and the cost of repair when such damages exceed the amount of the tenant’s security deposit and require the services of a third-party contractor.

Passing Stopped School Buses — HB1723

Extends from 10 days to 30 business days the deadline for issuing a summons for an alleged violation of passing a stopped school bus in order for proof that the motor vehicle passed a stopped school bus and that the defendant was the registered owner of the vehicle to give rise to a rebuttable presumption that the owner of the vehicle was the operator during the violation.

Fentanyl – Weapon of Terrorism – SB1188

Includes any mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, including its isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, as a weapon of terrorism for the purpose of defining terrorism offenses. The bill provides that any person who knowingly and intentionally manufactures or knowingly and intentionally distributes a weapon of terrorism when such person knows that such weapon of terrorism is, or contains, any mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Firearm Safety Device Tax Credit – HB2387

Establishes a nonrefundable income tax credit for taxable years 2023 through 2027 for individuals who purchase one or more firearm safety devices, as defined in the bill, in an eligible transaction, as defined in the bill. An individual who properly claims this credit shall be allowed a credit in the amount of up to $300 for the cost incurred in such purchase. The aggregate amount of credits allowable under the provisions of the bill shall not exceed $5 million per taxable year.

Pharmacist Treatment of Certain Illnesses – SB948

Allows pharmacists to initiate treatment with, dispense, or administer controlled substances or devices for the initiation of treatment of group A Streptococcus bacteria infection, influenza virus infection, COVID-19 virus infection, and urinary tract infection to persons 18 years of age or older with whom the pharmacist has a bona fide pharmacist-patient relationship in accordance with regulations set forth by the Board of Pharmacy.

Law-Enforcement Officers and Firefighters:  Workers’ Compensation – HB1775

Provides that an anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, as both are defined in the bill, incurred by a law-enforcement officer or firefighter is compensable under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act on the same basis as post-traumatic stress disorder, except in the case of responding to crime scenes for investigation. The bill provides that a mental health professional must diagnose the covered individual as suffering from anxiety disorder or depressive disorder as a result of a qualifying event, defined in the bill as an incident or exposure occurring in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2023, and includes other conditions for compensability.

Jury Duty Allowance – HB2317

Increases the jury duty allowance from $30 to $50 per day.

Dashcam Use – SB1058

Allows the suspension and use of any dashboard camera and any accompanying wires or attachments in or on a motor vehicle, provided that (i) such suspension and use are not otherwise prohibited by the provisions of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and (ii) such camera, wires, and attachments are wholly or mostly concealed behind the rear view mirror without any additional obstruction to the driver’s view.

Catalytic Converter Possession – SB1135

Makes it a Class 6 felony for any person to sell, offer for sale, or purchase a catalytic converter from a motor vehicle exhaust system that has been detached from a motor vehicle, except when such sale, offer for sale, or purchase is made to or by a scrap metal purchaser that has adhered to the required compliance provisions. The bill provides that a judge or jury may make a permissive inference that a person who is in possession of a catalytic converter that has been removed from a motor vehicle is presumed to have criminally obtained such catalytic converter unless the person is an authorized agent or employee acting in the performance of his official duties for a motor vehicle dealer, motor vehicle garage or repair shop, or salvage yard that is licensed or registered by the Commonwealth or a person who possesses vehicle registration documentation indicating that the catalytic converter in the person’s possession is the result of a replacement of a catalytic converter from a vehicle registered in that person’s name.

Stopping for Pedestrians – SB1069

Requires the driver of a vehicle on a highway approaching a pedestrian who is crossing such highway to stop when such pedestrian is within the driver’s lane or within an adjacent lane and approaching the driver’s lane. Currently, a driver is required to yield the right-of-way to such pedestrian by stopping and remaining stopped.

False Communication to Emergency Personnel – HB1572

Provides that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to knowingly report, or cause another to report in reliance on intentionally false information provided by such person, a false emergency communication to any emergency personnel that results in an emergency response.  The bill also provides that it is a Class 6 felony if such false emergency communication results in an emergency response and any person suffers a serious bodily injury as a direct and proximate result of the false emergency communication and a Class 5 felony if any person is killed as a direct and proximate result of the false emergency communication. The bill authorizes any locality to provide by ordinance that a person convicted of such false emergency communication shall be liable for the reasonable expense in responding to such false emergency communication.

We hope our reporting of the new laws in Virginia for 2023 has been helpful.  Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence.  Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester and also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.




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