25 Things you didn’t know about Virginia law

Just a (maybe) fun and (hopefully) helpful list of things you may not know about Virginia law. And it won’t cost you a dime!

  1. Virginia is a “one-party recording” state. This means you can secretly record conversations as long as one party to the conversation (you) knows you’re recording. ON THE OTHER HAND, you cannot secretly record conversations to which you are not a party.


  1. If you see an emergency vehicle, police office, OR TOWING VEHICLE pulled to the shoulder of the road, you must switch out of the lane nearest the vehicle if possible, and if not you must slow down.


  1. If you fire an employee, or she leaves voluntarily, and you “willfully and maliciously prevent or attempt to prevent by word or writing, directly or indirectly,” the employee “from obtaining employment with any other person,” you can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. That’s right; a criminal charge! If you are asked by the prospective new employer for a reference, you can give a truthful statement “concerning the character, industry and ability” of the person.


  1. Breast-feeding mothers are allowed to breast-feed in any public place they are lawfully allowed to be. “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a woman may breast-feed her child at any location where that woman would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased or controlled by the Commonwealth.” Breastfeeding mothers are also exempt from Virginia’s “indecent exposure” law. Code of Virginia § 18.2-387.


  1. It’s illegal in Virginia to kill, trap or transport wild animals, except as specifically permitted by law. If you have a problem animal (raccoon, groundhog, etc), with certain exceptions, you have to hire a licensed wildlife handler to help. What’s more, transporting wild animal “carcasses” is also illegal with certain exceptions (Some localities do have bounties on coyotes, and you actually get paid to shoot those). Code of Virginia § 29.1-521. One general exception: member of recognized American Indian tribes may buy and sell “parts of legally obtained fur-bearing animals, nonmigratory game birds, and game animals, except bear.” But, only from and to other American Indians.


  1. Virginia is a “contributory negligence” state. This means if you are even one percent negligent in a car accident, you can’t recover a dime, even if the other party was 99 percent negligent. It is an extremely harsh rule that often leaves victims of personal injury without a chance for monetary recovery. (Most states are “comparative negligence” states. There, if you’re only one percent negligent, the other party’s insurance has to pay 99 percent of your losses).


  1. “Blaze pink” is now legal along with blaze orange for hunting. (2017)


  1. School security officers can carry firearms (2017).


  1. Most child care providers must now undergo a fingerprint-based national criminal history background check. (2017).


  1. Driving too slow in the left land now carries a fine of $100. (2017).


  1. The Workers’ Compensation Commission can require an employer to provide funds for the purchase of a suitably equipped automobile for an incapacitated employee if it finds that it is medically necessary and that modifications to the employee’s automobile are not technically feasible or will cost more than the funds available for a replacement automobile. The total of the costs of the automobile and of any bedside lifts, adjustable beds, and modification of the employee’s principal home are limited to $42,000, which is the amount of the existing cap on expenses for modifications to the injured employee’s automobile and home. (2017).


  1. You cannot use the state seal of Virginia (think “Sic Semper Tyrannis”) for “non-governmental purposes” unless authorized by law. (Don’t put the state seal on your political campaign signs).


  1. It’s illegal to smoke in a car with a child under age 8. (2016).


  1. If you are hit with a protective order by a court, you must surrender any firearms within 24 hours. (2016)


  1. Minimum age to marry is now 18. It used to be 16, with parental consent (2016).


  1. Learner’s permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21, with the exception of household or family members. The limit used to be one passenger under age 18. (2016).


  1. Hospitals must supply a patient, who requests three days in advance, with an estimate of the payment amount for which the participant will be responsible for such elective procedure, test, or service. (2016).


  1. It is a now a felony to stalk a party protected by a protective order or to commit an assault and battery upon a party protected by a protective order if such assault and battery results in bodily injury. (2016).


  1. Any responsible employee of a public or private nonprofit institution of higher education who in the course of his employment obtains information that an act of sexual violence has been committed against a student or on campus property or other property related to the institution to report such information to the Title IX coordinator for the institution as soon as practicable,


  1. The law prohibits an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose the username and password to his social media account.


  1. Sunday hunting is (mostly) illegal in Virginia. There are several exceptions. You can hunt waterfowl. You can hunt on your own land, or if you have written permission from the landowner. And, you can hunt raccoons until 2:00 a.m.


  1. Under the Virginia Cave Protection Act, it is illegal to write on the walls of caves, or to transport or sell cave formations such as stalactites and stalagmites.


  1. You cannot call a ham a “Smithfield ham” unless all “salting, processing, treating, smoking, curing, and aging” is done in the town limits of Smithfield, a town about 2 ½ square miles large. It’s a Class 4 misdemeanor.


  1. Any fireworks that “explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air” are illegal in Virginia, unless you’re a licensed fireworks handler. Kinda takes the fun out of the Fourth of July.


  1. The following Virginia Native American tribes are recognized in Virginia: Mattaponi, Upper Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Nansemond, Monacan, Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Nottoway, Patawomeck.