Virginia Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond

Thousands of Virginians will be able to get their driver’s licenses back, bars will be able to promote their happy hour specials and big-dollar lottery winners will be able to keep their identities secret under a host of new laws going into effect on July 1.

One of the biggest items that passed during the legislative session earlier this year was a measure that ends the suspension of driver’s licenses of people with unpaid court debt. The Department of Motor Vehicles said it sent 500,000 letters to Virginia residents with suspended licenses advising them how to get their licenses back starting July 1.

Brianna Morgan, a single mother from Petersburg who went years without a driver’s license and was only recently able to get hers restored, said thousands of Virginians will now be able to do basic things many people take for granted, like driving to the grocery store or to work.

“It’s going to be wonderful for all the people that were affected by it,” she said.

Here’s a look at some other notable new laws:

Happy hour

Restaurants and bars will now be able to advertise the price of their happy hour specials, which they couldn’t do previously. The law also allows them to use “creative marketing techniques” to advertise those specials as long as those efforts don’t promote “overconsumption” or entice minors to drink.


Tobacco-friendly Virginia, where the early economy was powered by the leafy plant and the industry continues to hold great sway, raise the age limit on buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. The law’s restrictions apply to cigarettes and liquid nicotine used in vaping devices and exempts active-duty military personnel. Virginia-based Altria, one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, supported the proposal.

Tampons in prison

A new state law will require the Department of Corrections to come up with new policies that ensure that visitors to state prisons can wear tampons. Last year, the department suspended a briefly introduced policy that would have barred women who visit inmates at state prisons from wearing tampons. Department officials said they prevent contraband from being smuggled into prisons.

Mystery Lottery winners

Virginia Lottery winners whose haul is more than $10 million will be able to keep their identities hidden. A new law prohibits the state lottery from releasing a winner’s personal information to the public.

Car inspections

The price of getting a car’s yearly safety inspection done will go from $16 to $20.

Eviction relief

A package of new laws will go into effect aimed at reducing evictions by giving tenants more time to pay rent and fees ahead of an eviction notice and limiting the number of legal actions a landlord may file. The new laws are the result of a push that began last year after a research group at Princeton University found that five cities in Virginia have some of the highest eviction rates in the country.

Jim Crow wages

Virginia’s Jim Crow-era exceptions to the state’s minimum-wage law are coming off the books. Lawmakers approved legislation that eliminates an exemption in state law that said certain jobs traditionally held by African Americans, including ushers and doormen, didn’t have to pay minimum wage.

(16) comments

More Cowbell

Wow, eviction relief. How much time is enough? I know several people that just don't pay their rent and move from place to place every 3-6 months. 1 guy owes $25K+ to various apartments complexes, rent it center, and home owners renting to him(and his gf). Same goes for another couple, owe around $15K on 2 separate rental properties. Of course same two owe the state/Loudoun/Fairfax around $50K in fines, jail fees, interest...besides not paying on rent owed to others.


Moving every 3-6 months, that literally makes me exhausted just reading it. Do those people have jobs or are they professional scammers? If they have jobs can't a percent of their income be taken to repay debts? I don't know how that stuff works but it seems that the people owed should have some way to recoup their losses.


Absolutely ridiculous liberal ruling!!! I am beside myself. Virginia is slowly migrating into a California state. We lived in San Diego for 16 years and loved the weather and beaches but couldn't take the taxes and liberal laws and left. Now what?? And, look around at what is being bused into our state of only those that don't follow our laws our customs. UGH!! enough now....


You must be referring to our time-honored Virginia 'custom' of writing vague and grammatically-questionable rants on local news sites about nothing much ....


That could be a good thing right? California rates 5th as having the happiest and healthiest people, we only rate 27th, with over half the states ahead of us. (gallop poll FEBRUARY 27, 2019 )

More Cowbell

VA is owed over $100 million from those not paying their fines(including interest). Why did inspection go up $4? We pay a huge tax on gas to fund roads, huge tax on toll roads to fund metro. And yet we still have some of the worst traffic and roads in the area. I'd wager those unable to pay their fines, don't have auto Insurance, but have $300/month cell phone bill.


I don't even know how someone can get to a $300 cellphone bill so I will just ignore that ridiculousness. We don't pay taxes on toll roads. We pay tolls which can be avoided by not using the toll road. More importantly assuming you are talking about the Dulles Toll road we don't pay the toll to the state. The road is owned and operated by the airport authority. They charge the toll to pay for their portion of the metro expansion costs. If VA is owed $100 million by those that owe fines then it is a pretty good sign that the prior law of suspending driver licenses was ineffective. Now that those people can get licenses again they can also now more easily get jobs and be able to pay back those fines.


Still not able to report ALL of the news...What about the Move Over Law that increases the penalty for not moving over or slowing down to a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2500 and a year in jail for the first offense? Might be good for some of your readers to know about that one, especially the ones who "haven't been driving" due suspended licenses. SMDH

Chris McHale

So the cost of car inspections have inc4ease via DMV, ok I can understand inflation. However DMV is restoring licenses to people who don't pay court fines, penalties and fees. No!!!!! Please stop the insanity. The fines. Penalties and fees were because the driver did something wrong. Resolve that and then DMV should restore this PRIVILEGE. Why should I ever honor my financial obligations moving forward, just give me free stuff.


Hey Chris, I bought my car at Pohanka and they cover the regular inspection for as long as you own it. Still have to pay emissions though. Maybe they should make them do community service if they don't pay.Las Vegas is letting them pay off fines with school supplies. Maybe Virginia can come up with something.


Pohanka. LOL. You more than made up for the difference by overpaying for the car!


Penguin, I shopped around and they gave me the best price by thousands of my hard earned dollars. I definitely didn't overpay, one of the best deals ever. Now I can save an extra $20 a year. Gotta haggle!

LoCo Bob

And what if people still don't pay their fines? Does this mean it's optional now when you get a ticket?


Only if you are here illegally. Then we give you everything for free and the middle class subsidizes you.


Sorry RoundHillGuy, you seem to have 'undocumented migrants' mixed up with 'major corporations' - that's who is dodging fines, ignoring laws, and getting everything for free subsidized by taxpayers. I understand, its an easy mistake to make when all you consume is Faux News.


I believe you meant trump, we are subsidizing his golf trips ($104 million so far, his private 4th of July, his family vacations etc.etc.etc.

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