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New laws take effect today: Tobacco purchase age rises, animal cruelty now a felony, happy hour can now be advertised, and more

July 1st marks the day when scores of new laws enacted by the Virginia General Assembly go into effect each year. Here’s a roundup of some of the laws that will affect you and what they mean.

Trevor Dickerson



July 1st marks the date each year when new laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly go into effect. This year is no exception.

Here are a few standouts you should know about that take effect today.

Legal age to purchase tobacco rises from 18 to 21

The minimum age to purchase tobacco products including cigarettes, vaping products, and other products has risen from 18 to 21. Active duty military members, however, can still purchase these products at 18 with a valid military ID. Tobacco products are now also banned from all school property in the Commonwealth.

Animal cruelty now a felony

Thanks to the attention surrounding Tommie, the Richmond pit bull who was set on fire and left to die, Virginia lawmakers have gotten tougher on would-be animal abusers. “Tommie’s Law” makes the abuse of a dog or cat a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $2,500. Previously, such crimes were merely misdemeanors.

Happy hours can now be advertised

Virginia bars and restaurants can now advertise their happy hour specials – something that was previously prohibited. Establishments can now list happy hour prices, specific drink specials, and more on social media, their websites, and through flyers and posters. Previously, patrons would have to visit the establishment to learn of specials, and employees couldn’t even give them over the phone. Happy hours must still end by 9:00 PM.

Move Over law expanded

Virginia’s Move Over law, which requires drivers to move into a nonadjacent lane away from emergency vehicles on roadways, has been expanded. Failure to move over into a nonadjacent lane on a highway with at least four lanes when an emergency vehicle is displaying flashing lights (when safe to do so) is now punishable by a fine of up to $250. A second offense would pin drivers with a Class 1 misdemeanor. All offenses related to this law now carry the reckless driving designation, too.

Get caught up on all the new laws you need to know about here.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.