Legal Review: New Virginia DMV Bills Are Now in Effect

In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has numerous bills that went into effect in July. The bills will change specific policies regarding vehicle registrations, issuance fees, and license plates, and will apply to all vehicle owners within the Commonwealth.

These changes are part of a larger group of new laws that went into effect on July 1, 2021, many of which will affect Virginia drivers.

New Disability Indicator

One major change that is now in effect is the expansion of voluntary disability indicators on vehicle registrations. The bills regarding this change specify that any vehicle owner whose vehicles are regularly occupied by someone with a communication impairment can voluntarily indicate this on their registration. Communication impairment includes individuals with autism.

Right now, the indicator will only apply to vehicle owners who have a disability. The purpose of the change is to alert law enforcement officers that someone in the vehicle could have a communication impairment. This is important for officers to be aware of when approaching a stopped vehicle.

No More Issuance Fees for Virginia National Guard

With the passing of House Bills 1796 and 2261, there is no longer a fee for the issuance of a special license plate for active or retired members of the Virginia National Guard. The two separate bills both remove the fees that were previously associated with getting these license plates.

House Bill 1796 removes the issuance fee for the retired National Guard license plate, available for retired members of the Virginia National Guard. Similarly, House Bill 2261 removes the issuance fee for one set of Virginia National Guard plates for anyone actively serving in the Virginia National Guard.

Availability of Special Military Licence Plates

Recipients of specific military medals will now be able to get special license plates directly from the DMV that correspond to their medals. To get these special plates, the driver will need to show proof of receiving their medal. Surviving spouses who are not remarried can also choose to obtain these special plates by showing proof the spouse was a recipient of a military medal.

The bill, House Bill 2069, also specifies a uniform fee structure for the cost of these license plates. The fee structure is based on the order of precedence of the decoration, as determined by the federal Department of Defense or other relevant federal agencies.

Changes to Ducks Unlimited License Plate

The passing of Senate Bill 1229 changed the existing Ducks Unlimited license plate to a revenue-sharing special license plate. Currently, those holding this special license plate pay a $10 annual fee. Under this bill, that fee will be increased to $25 annually.

Because this is now a revenue-sharing license plate, $15 of the $25 fee incurred will go to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. The money that is transferred to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. supports the wetlands and waterfowl habitat programs they run in Virginia.

New Laws to Protect Virginia’s Roadways

“These changes at the Virginia DMV are part of a larger set of laws that went into effect in July,” said Attorney T. Vaden Warren, Jr. of The Warren Firm, PLLC.. “It’s important that Virginia drivers are aware of these new DMV policies, as well as any new laws and penalties.”

The Virginia General Assembly is working hard to make Virginia’s roadways safer. These DMV changes are only a small part of the changes being made for Virginia drivers to help keep our roads safe for everyone.