On Friday, some Virginia restaurants will have the option of going BYOW — bring your own wine.
It’s just one of nearly 900 bills that passed during this year’s winter General Assembly session. Most of the new laws take effect July 1.
Here are some of the highlights:
Drinking and driving: Teens who drink and drive will face harsher penalties, including loss of their license for a year and either a $500 minimum fine or 50 hours of community service. Currently, the punishment is loss of license for six months and a maximum fine of $500.
Bring your own wine: A new law will allow restaurants to permit patrons to bring their own wine. The catch? The restaurants will be allowed to charge a “cork” fee to open the bottle.
Protective orders: A law expands the availability of protective orders to any violent or threatening behavior that places one at reasonable risk of injury. The orders will now be available regardless of the relationship of the parties involved, removing barriers for non-family members, such as people in dating relationships.
Sexual abuse: Minors who are victims of sexual abuse will now have 20 years from the time of the incident to file a civil lawsuit. The previous statute of limitations was two years.
Search warrants: Makes the affidavit for a search warrant publicly available only after the warrant has been executed, or 15 days after issuance of the warrant, whichever is earlier.
School year: A school district may begin classes before Labor Day if it is surrounded by other districts that are also beginning school early.
Traffic lights: Motorcycles, mo-peds and bicycles will be allowed to proceed through red lights so long as the rider comes to a complete stop for 120 seconds, treats the light as a stop sign and determines that it is safe to proceed.
Jury duty: Firefighters, which include emergency medical technicians, lifesaving and rescue squad members and arson investigators, will be exempt from jury service if they request.