DIVISION OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES
2002 SESSION: General Assembly Issues
Business - Campaigns/Elections
- Constitutional Amendments - Courts
Teen Driving Restrictions
The 2001 Regular Session enacted legislation placing limits on the hours during which persons under 18 may lawfully drive and the number of less-than-18-year-old passengers they transport. Based on the inquiries made immediately before and after the new law went into effect on July 1, the General Assembly will probably be requested to revisit this issue to consider a variety of exceptions and exemptions. Given the rather extensive treatment this legislation received in the news media, it was surprising how badly informed a substantial portion of the public was in this matter, much of it taking the form of "yes, but surely this law doesn't apply to my kid." Proposed changes might include exemptions from either the hours-of-operation limitation or the number-of-passengers limitation for (i) students who maintain better than some threshold grade-point average in school, (ii) students traveling to or from school or a school-sponsored activity, (iii) teenagers traveling to, from, or in the course of employment, and (iv) teenagers whose parents request they be exempted.
Regional Transportation Authorities
When the 2001 Regular Session approved legislation creating a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, that legislation included (i) a delayed effective date of July 1, 2002, and (ii) a provision charging a General Assembly study subcommittee to make recommendations to the 2002 Session to make the legislation more effective. While this study has not yet finalized the details of its legislative recommendations, it is a virtual certainty that such recommendations will be made. It is not by any means impossible (and might even be likely) that several competing bills offering alternative approaches might be offered. Given the success of Northern Virginia in obtaining a regional authority to attempt to address its transportation needs, it would certainly not be surprising to see attempts to create similar regional authorities for other portions of the Commonwealth.
Use of Cell Phones While Driving
In the past year, New York's legislature enacted the nation's first legislation placing statewide limits on use of wireless telecommunications devices (cell phones) while driving. This action on the part of New York may heighten interest in the subject in Virginia.
"Photo-Red" Traffic Light Enforcement
In 2000, the General Assembly approved legislation that would have authorized nine localities to establish "photo-red" traffic light enforcement programs (programs that use automated cameras to record images of the license plates of vehicles that fail to stop for red traffic lights). Several similar bills were offered in 2001, but none of them passed. It is a virtual certainty that the 2002 Session will see the introduction of similar legislation, and it is just as certain that the whole subject will remain very controversial.
"Photo-Radar" Speed Limit Enforcement
The inauguration of a "photo radar" speed limit enforcement program (a program that uses automated cameras to record images of the license plates of vehicles that violate speed limits) by the District of Columbia may prompt efforts in the General Assembly to authorize a similar program either statewide or within specific localities in the Commonwealth.
Special License Plates
For the first time in years, no legislation authorizing the issuance of new special license plates was approved by the General Assembly in 2001. While more than a score of bills to authorize new special license plates were offered in the House of Delegates and approximately half that many were offered in the Senate, they were all defeated. It would be surprising if the 2002 Session did not see the introduction of a considerable number of special license plate billsincluding many re-introductions of bills defeated in 2001.
Alan B. Wambold
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