New Laws Set to go Into Effect in Virginia July 1 - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

New Laws Set to go Into Effect in Virginia July 1

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It's hard to believe, but June is nearly over, and that means not only is summer in full swing, but a number of new laws will soon go into effect.

Starting July 1, a measure to increase sales tax across the commonwealth kicks in, raising it from 5 percent to 5.3 percent.

Car taxes will also jump from 3 percent to 4 percent next month.

There is some good news for drivers: gas could wind up costing you less, since the tax per gallon of gas will change from around 17 cents a gallon to 11 cents.

At the same time, a new ban on a popular behind-the-wheel habit will go into effect. Texting while driving will now be a primary offense in the commonwealth, meaning police can pull over a driver they suspect of texting. Reading your messages while behind the wheel will also get you in trouble.

The fines for texting and driving have gone up as well. Rather than a $20 fine, you could get slapped with a $125 ticket for the first offense. For any subsequent offenses, the fines go up to $250. And if you get a reckless driving and texting at the same time it's a minimum mandatory $250 fine.

There also some new restrictions for those of you planning to hit the water this summer. As of July 1, boaters and jet skiers 40 years old and under will have to complete a boating safety course.

"At Smith Mountain Lake there has been a lot of concern about reckless boating, and making sure people are properly trained about how to boat," said Virginia Senator John Edwards.

Previously all boat operators 30 and under had to have safety certification. Classes can be taken online or at several locations across the commonwealth.