New driving laws in effect include stiffer penalties for distracted driving

A series of new motor vehicle laws went into effect Tuesday, Oct. 1, including a penalty of one point on the driver’s license of anyone convicted of distracted driving.

These new Department of Motor Vehicles laws, which were passed in the last General Assembly session, cover a range of topics.

“These are important for DMV customers and citizens to know, and many help to increase safety awareness,” said Commissioner Melody A. Currey.

The following are new:


• Electric vehicle registrations changed from annual to biennial.

• Snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle registrations are changed from March 31 to two years from the registration date.

Driver testing

• A highway work zone safety and driver responsibility question must be on every knowledge test.

• A question about the dangers of distracted driving, including ban on use of cell phones and electronic devices, must be on every knowledge test.

Property tax

• Owners of ATVs and boats will be prohibited from registering them if they owe property tax on a motor vehicle.

License points, disqualification

• One point will go on the driver license record of anyone convicted of distracted driving. Fines also will be increased.

• DMV will change its policy so that two points are assessed on the driving record for convictions of violations of highway work zone safety laws. Fines also will be increased.

• Drivers convicted of going in excess of 75 mph in a work zone and commercial drivers convicted of exceeding 65 mph will be required to attend the operator retraining program. Fines will also be increased.

• For commercial driver license holders, the definition of “serious violation” will now include talking on a cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle and can lead to disqualification of the license. (Texting is already prohibited.)

Driving schools

• Driver education classroom information must now include highway work zone safety and driver responsibilities

• Driving schools can increase from $125 to $150 the cost for the required eight-hour road safe-driving practices information session all license applicants must attend.