New Rules for Living in Virginia

Drive faster, pack heat in bars

Visiting a bar in Virginia? BYOG. 

That's bring your own gun.

A new law taking effect Thursday gives Virginians the right to carry concealed weapons into bars.

The guns-in-bars statute allows holders of concealed weapons permits to take their firearms into places where alcohol is served, provided the gun's bearer doesn't imbibe.

Detractors warned the legislation would turn the neighborhood watering hole into the scene of bloody gunplay. Supporters countered the law only gives law-abiding gun owners the same advantage that armed thugs who defy the law already have.

Similar bills had made it through the legislature before, only to have then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, veto them. But with
freshly inaugurated Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in office, the measure passed again last winter.

So did an unusually high number of measures that make guns easier to buy and carry.

Other new laws eliminate the penalty for transporting a firearm secured in a vehicle's locked compartment, allow for the renewal of
concealed firearms permits by mail, and require court clerks to immediately notify those denied a concealed handgun permit of the
right to appeal. One bill with backing from the gun-rights lobby that failed would have repealed Virginia's one handgun-per-month purchase limit.

A gun restriction law also takes effect. It disqualifies anyone with a drunken driving conviction in another state from obtaining a
Virginia concealed handgun permit.

And you may be able to drive faster to get to your local watering hole. Another new rule ups the speed limit to 70 mph on certain roads.

A 27-mile stretch of Interstate 295 will be the first section of interstate where motorists will be able to go 70 mph. The stretch
runs east of Richmond to I-295's southern intersection with I-95 near Petersburg.

Others sections may follow, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Caldwell.

There are 741 miles of interstate eligible for study for higher speeds depending on analyses of road characteristics, prevailing
traffic speeds and crash data, he said. 

And watch out on those new 70 mph stretches. State troopers and other police agencies won't be as forgiving of people exceeding the higher posted speed.

The law also reduces to just 11 mph the margin between the legal speed limit and a reckless driving citation with a mandatory court
appearance, prohibitive fines and possible jail time. State law defines any driver going 81 mph or more as reckless.

The changes are among 561 pieces of legislation that the General Assembly approved and that take effect Thursday.  To view all of the new laws, click here.

The new state budget also takes effect, cutting millions of dollars across the state.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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