Update: Governor Northam has submitted recommendations to the General Assembly prior to signing HB5058. These updates correct a drafting error, and would allow officers to pull over a vehicle with improper brake lights, or headlights (at night).
The General Assembly has been meeting in a Special Session to address Criminal Justice Reform, and new legislation – such as HB5058 -has been passed that should be a significant boon to protecting the rights of Virginians.
Both houses of The General Assembly have passed HB5058, which, when signed by the Governor, will limit the reasons that you may be initially pulled over. Law enforcement may no longer stop a vehicle for faulty or no license plate light or brake lights, for an inadequate exhaust system (muffler), for unlawful tints, for failure to wear a seat-belt, and for other small vehicle maintenance offenses. This is also true for “jay-walking” offenses. These offenses all still exists, and you may be ticketed or charged for them – but they can no longer be the primary reason for stopping a vehicle. So, if you are speeding, and any of these conditions exist you are not off the hook. But this measure should reduce ‘pretextual’ stops, where police stop a car (or person) for minor infractions, only to use the opportunity to search for greater charges.
While not as attention or headline grabbing as other criminal justice reform proposals, HB5058 is a fairly significant step to limiting unnecessary contact between law enforcement and citizens.