Virginia Motorist Info

The following information is updated periodically. However, laws and regulations can change between updates. State statutes and local ordinances are the ultimate authorities for these issues.

Points of Interest

  • Important legal point: Traffic tickets are not valid in Virginia unless they are personally served on the defendant, or the defendant waives this requirement by responding to a notice of the ticket. This means that if you receive a ticket in the mail, the best response may be to ignore it. If you are in doubt, consult an attorney. (See this NMA Blog post)
  • Virginia law requires newly lowered speed limits to be conspicuously marked.
  • RADAR detectors are prohibited but may be transported with no power source and not accessible to passenger compartment. Mobile scanners are permitted.
  • Although speeding more than 19 mph over the posted limit is considered “reckless driving,” any speed over 80 mph is considered reckless. Thus on highways with 65 mph speed limits, you will be cited with reckless driving at only 15 mph over the posted speed limit. State troopers are motivated to make a special effort to give “reckless driving” citations since they get more credit for them than for routine speeding tickets.

Speed Limits

Rural Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 70
Urban Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 70
Other Limited Access Roads: Cars 65, Trucks 65
(http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/speedlimit_laws.html)

These speed limits apply unless a different limit is posted.

Speed limits are absolute–exceeding the speed limit is illegal per se (regardless of whether it was safe under the specific conditions).

Speed Limits Enforcement Techniques
Enforced through use of:
Pacing: Yes
Radar: Yes
Vascar: Yes
Automated Speed Enforcement: Yes
Aircraft: No
Laser: Yes

Ticket Payment Methods
Consult your ticket or clerk of courts

Trial By Declaration Allowed
No

Discovery
Allowed
Rule 7C:5

Jury Trial Allowed
Speeding: Yes*
Parking: Yes*
Equipment: Yes*
DWI: Yes*

* All cases may be appealed to a jury trial.

Member of Nonresident Compact
Yes

Member of Driver License Compact
Yes

When and Where to File Accident Reports
All accidents must be reported immediately to the local authorities.

Resident Insurance Requirements
Liability insurance is required (although some states allow posting a cash bond or such as an alternative)
Minimum Coverage Required:
Injury to one person: $25,000
All injuries: $50,000
Property Damage: $20,000

Phone/Texting Restrictions
Hand-Held Ban: No
All Cell Phone Ban: Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers
Texting Ban: All drivers
Enforcement: Primary: for texting by all drivers (effective 07/01/13)/Secondary: for drivers younger than 18
http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx

Other Regulations

  • Open intoxicants are prohibited in the vehicle.
  • The BAC level is .08%.
  • Virginia has an administrative license suspension law and an implied consent law. The breathalyzer refusal penalty is a 6-month driver’s license suspension.
  • Concealed carry permits are available and permits from other states are recognized: http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms_Reciprocity.shtm
  • Studded tires are prohibited.
  • Tire chains are not required unless posted otherwise.
  • The officer is required by law to show the cited driver the reading on the Laser reading.
  • The officer must be in uniform when issuing a speeding ticket.
  • Virginia has a seat belt law with secondary enforcement for all front seat occupants.
  • Virginia has a mandatory child restraint law for passengers under 16 years of age. Children under the age of 4 must use approved car safety seats.
  • Virginia has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law.
  • Registration must be carried in the vehicle. Insurance card is not required to be carried in the vehicle.

General Information
Telephone: 804/674-2000 (State Police) or http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/gd/home.html (Virginia Judicial System, General District Court)
Emergency Cellular Phone Number: #77 or 911