Northam Proposals on Transportation Pass House, Move to Senate
* VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story
A major highway safety bill, proposed by House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and supported by Governor Ralph Northam, passed the House of Delegates Monday. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for a vote.
If signed into law, it would become illegal for anyone to bring open alcohol containers into a car. Current open container laws in Virginia do not apply to passengers. Martha Meade of the American Automobile Association supports the legislation.
“By banning having an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a car, we take away that temptation. We take away any doubt of who’s drinking alcohol in the car -- certainly, we don’t want it to be the driver,” Meade said.
Despite the more strict regulations, there would be a few exceptions to the rule. Open containers would still be allowed in a car if they are in a locked glove compartment or in the trunk.
Additionally, Filler-Corn’s bill would expand texting and driving laws, making it illegal to hold any handheld device while driving.
“It’s impossible for police to enforce that law because they can’t know what you’re doing on the phone and not everybody is going to admit it if they’re pulled over,” Meade said. “So the need for that law is to make it enforceable so that we can save lives in Virginia.”
The bill would also make not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense, making it easier for police to pull people over for seatbelt violations.
Similar legislative proposals have faced objection in the past from legislators who do not support increased regulations on driving.