Using a mobile phone while driving will officially be illegal in Virginia starting on Jan. 1.
Current state law prohibits reading a phone and texting while driving and holding a phone while driving through a work zone, but the Virginia General Assembly adopted legislation barring the use of handheld phones while driving a moving vehicle on state highways in March.
While the law was technically enacted on July 1, its effective date was delayed until the new year so that the public could be educated about its provisions and law enforcement agencies could get training on how to enforce it.
Violations of the new law will be punishable by a fine of $125 for the first offense and $250 fine for any subsequent offenses.
There are a few exceptions to the ban on using a phone while driving, including:
- Emergency vehicle operators who are performing their official duties, including law enforcement and fire and medical responses
- Drivers who are lawfully parked or stopped
- Someone using their phone to report an emergency
- The use of an amateur or citizens’ band radio
- Department of Transportation vehicle operators who are performing traffic incident management services
According to Drive Smart Virginia, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported that 15% of all fatal crashes in 2018 were related to distracted driving. Fairfax County has the second-most distracted driving fatalities in the state, surpassed only by Prince William County, and the most injuries that result from distraction-related crashes.
The distracted driving ban is perhaps the most significant legal change coming to Virginia on New Year’s Day, but it is not the only new law that will take effect on Jan. 1.
Here are some other measures to be aware of when the new year arrives:
- HB 264: requires in-person training for concealed handgun permits, removing online or electronic courses as an option for demonstrating competence
- HB 1211: enables undocumented immigrants to apply for new driver privilege cards so they can legally drive
- HB 66: prohibits health insurance companies from charging more than $50 per 30-day supply for prescription insulin
- HB 789: sets a 36% annual rate cap on the interest and fees charged for a short-term loan, which can now go up to $2,500
- SB 172: protects people who receive emergency services from an out-of-network healthcare provider from unexpected medical costs
- HB 1407: prohibits employers from misclassifying employees as independent contractors
- HB 742: gives localities the authority to regulate the takeoff and landing of unmanned aircraft on public property
Photo via Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash
In two weeks the General Assembly will convene for its annual session that will mark 50 years since the people voted to ratify revisions to the Jim-Crow-laden Constitution of 1902. Up until those revisions, the state legislature met only every other year. The revised Constitution provided for annual sessions to be sixty days in the even-numbered years and thirty days in the odd-numbered years with a provision that any session could be extended up to half its length by a two-thirds vote of the members. Full sixty-day sessions have run over a day or so but have not been extended; thirty-day sessions have always been extended to 45 days to get the work done. The minority party leadership in both houses has indicated that they will not vote to extend the session this year. Not only will the session be shorter, but it will also operate under the restrictions of the pandemic. The House will meet virtually by Zoom, and the Senate that has the smaller number of members will meet partly in Richmond and partly by Zoom. Much business is on the agenda, and careful planning is essential to having a successful session.
The agenda will be full. The budget will need to be revised to reflect the changes brought on by the pandemic. Criminal justice reform that got underway this year has remaining work to be done. Climate change continues, and we must do our part to combat it. Help needs to be given to the unemployed and the homeless or those under threat of eviction. The list is long.
Your help with the planning is essential if the General Assembly is going to be responsive to the needs and interests of the people. Several opportunities exist for you to participate in that planning.
Senator Janet Howell and I will be holding our annual pre-session town hall meeting virtually this coming Tuesday, January 5, 7 to 8:30 p.m.. To take part, register at Virtual Town Hall. After you register you will receive a link by which to join the virtual town hall meeting. You may join to simply listen, but we encourage you tell us your priorities and recommendations. Remember we will have a time crunch during the session that means we will be dealing only with priority items.
Senator Howell and I will also be participating with the Northern Virginia members of the General Assembly in a virtual public hearing on Saturday, January 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. Look for a registration link to be publicized soon so you can participate in the hearing.
I also encourage you to participate in my online voter survey that is accessible on my website, www.kenplum.com. While some complex issues have been simplified to the survey form, I encourage you to fill in the details of your recommendations in the comment section of the survey or in an email to [email protected] While time does not permit me to respond personally to every survey submitted, I do consider your ideas and recommendations.
We will get the New Year underway with challenges and hope. By planning together we can be successful. Happy New Year and thank you for your help!
As we look forward toward closing the book on 2020 and ring in 2021, there are a few noteworthy closures around the county to be aware of.
Services and government offices throughout Fairfax County have altered their schedules in observance of the New Year’s holiday.
The full list from around the county is as follows:
Fairfax County Government:
- County government offices will be closed on Jan. 1.
Fairfax County Courts:
- The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will be closed all day on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
- Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and Nature House, will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in observance of the New Year holiday.
- RCC Hunters Woods is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Jan. 1.
- RCC Lake Anne is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, and it is closed on Jan. 1.
- Fairfax County Public Schools remain closed through Jan. 1 for Winter Break. All students will resume classes virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Monday, Jan. 4, is an independent day.
County Libraries, Recreation Centers:
- All Fairfax County library branches, community and regional, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. They will all be closed on Jan. 1.
- All Fairfax County RECenters, except George Washington RECenter (GWRC), will be open at their regular times and close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. GWRC will be closed on Dec. 31. All RECenters will be closed on Jan. 1.
Town of Herndon government and services:
- Government offices will be closed on Jan. 1.
- The Herndon Community Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 31, but it will be closed on Jan. 1.
- The Town of Herndon will not provide trash collection on Jan. 1. Trash that is normally collected on Friday will be picked up Thursday, Dec. 31.
- Connector buses will operate on a Sunday service plan on Jan. 1. Check here for operating routes.
- Fairfax CUE service will not be provided on Jan. 1.
- WMATA Metrorail service will open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. through Dec. 31. Service will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. while operating on a holiday schedule with Sunday service intervals on Jan. 1.
- WMATA Metrobus will operate on a regular schedule on Dec. 31 and will go to a Sunday schedule for Jan. 1.
- Metro’s customer information call center will be closed. Automated information is available by calling 202-637-7000 or online at wmata.com
- WMATA’s regular fares and parking fees will be in effect on Dec. 31. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, while parking will be free at all Metro-operated facilities on Jan. 1.
County Trash and Recycling:
- There will be no change in the county’s trash and recycling collection on Jan. 1. To ensure all trash and recycling is collected, the county urges for all materials to be placed at the curb or street line by 6 a.m.
- County Public Works and Environmental Services administrative offices will closed on Jan. 1 and reopen on Jan. 4.
- The recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be closed at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31 and all day on Jan. 1.
Photo by Elisha Terada/Unsplash
An end to 2020 is almost upon us. If ever a year deserved a send-off of champagne and confetti, it was this one, but as they did with many other traditions, concerns about COVID-19 have curtailed or put on hold many of the usual New Year’s Eve parties.
Still, there remain plenty of options for ringing in the new year.
For people who like to close out the year with a song, the Times Square Ball Drop will feature singer Andra Day headlining an evening of live performances. The event is closed to the public this year, but it will still be broadcast on TV and online.
The great outdoors also offers a world of possibility.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is turning its annual First Hike Fairfax program into a three-day affair that starts on New Year’s Day. People who send in a photo of their hike by Jan. 3 will be entered into a contest to celebrate the park authority’s 70th anniversary.
How do you plan on ushering in 2021? If you have a special New Year’s tradition that’s not included below, feel free to share in the comments.
Image via Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
After brief changes to parking over Thanksgiving break, free holiday garage parking will return to Reston Town Center this month.
Although garage parking is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, changes are planned for the holiday season. Typically, the first hour of parking is free on weekdays.
From Dec. 21 through New Year’s Day, garage parking will be free.
Parking was also free from Nov. 23 through Sunday (Dec. 1), in addition to the following holidays:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- President’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Columbus Day
- Veteran’s Day
From 5Ks to champagne toasts, there are plenty of events around Reston on New Year’s Eve if you’re still scrambling to put together plans for this Monday.
Monday (New Year’s Eve)
Kalypso’s New Year’s Eve Party
Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N)
Time: 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
Kalypso’s is hosting a cover-free New Year’s party with free party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Four-course meals are available at the restaurant for $39.95, with advance reservation suggested.
New Year’s Eve at Jimmy’s
Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern (697 Spring St)
Time: 5 p.m.-2 a.m.
The New Year’s celebration at Jimmy’s features a five-course meal for $39 for early seating or $49 for those who want to stay all night. DJ and dancing start at 10 p.m.
Field Shaman’s New Year’s Eve Bash
Red’s Table (11150 S Lakes Dr)
Time: 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Red’s Table will host a New Year’s celebration will feature a selection of classic and indie rock with the bands Field Shaman Trio and Good for Sunday.
New Year’s Eve Party
PassionFish (11960 Democracy Dr)
Time: 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
The lounge area of PassionFish will be transformed into a party spot with an open bar, a variety of seafood and a DJ. Tickets for all-night partiers are $125 or $50 for those who just want to stay for dinner.
Tuesday (New Year’s Day)
New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch
Mon Ami Gabi (11950 Democracy Drive)
Time: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
For the early risers, this New Year’s Day brunch will feature French cuisine classics like Crème Brûlée French Toast and Classic Quiche Lorraine.
PR Series: New Year’s Day 5k
Reston Town Center (11900 Market St)
Time: 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
If you’re looking to start 2019 a little healthier, a 5k around the Reston Town Center will be held on Tuesday morning with music and food available after the race. Tickets are $35 until Dec. 31.
Photo courtesy PR Running
In case you were planning to visit these government facilities around Fairfax County during the holiday season, check to see whether or not they will be closed on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), Christmas (Dec. 25), New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) and Jan. 1.
Fairfax County’s government offices, libraries and courts will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas and Jan. 1.
The county’s public schools will be on winter break from Monday, Dec. 24, until Friday, Jan. 4.
The Fairfax Connector will be running on a holiday weekday schedule for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. A full list of routes running in the Reston area is available online. The next day, the bus will operate on a Sunday schedule for Christmas and Jan. 1.
Frying Pan Farm Park and Colvin Run Mill Historic Site will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.
County trash and recycling collection will not happen on Christmas. The updated collection schedule for next week is:
- Tuesday customers will have collection on Wednesday (Dec. 26)
- Wednesday customers will have collection on Thursday (Dec. 27)
- Thursday customers will have collection on Friday (Dec. 28)
- Friday customers will have collection on Saturday (Dec. 29)
The Reston Association offices will be closed for Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.
Nature House will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Reston Community Center Lake Anne will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.
Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods will be closed on Christmas. It will have modified hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and from noon to 5 p.m. on Jan. 1.
The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center will be closed on Christmas. It will have modified hours from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 1.
Town of Herndon government offices will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas and Jan. 1.
Refuse will be collected on Christmas Eve, but refuse normally collected on Tuesdays will be collected on Thursday (Dec. 27) and New Year’s Eve.
The Herndon Community Center will be closed on Christmas and Jan. 1.
The Herndon Centennial Golf Course will only be closed for Christmas.
Metro, DMV and more
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.
The Metro and Metrobus will be running a Sunday schedule on Christmas and Jan. 1, operating from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The Metro will provide special late-night rail service on New Year’s Eve with trains running until 2 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Speaking of closed offices, Reston Now will be on breaks for Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1.
Where to Celebrate New Year’s in Reston — Where do you plan to ring in 2017? If you’d rather get out of the house than stay home and watch the ball drop on TV, there are a few places offering special celebrations and dinners. [Reston Patch]
Missing Teen Found Safe — Fairfax County police say that 17-year-old Elliot Byrum, who went missing from North Point Village Center in Reston Wednesday afternoon, was found safe Thursday afternoon, after being missing for more than 24 hours. [Reston Now]
Plan Ahead for Childcare on Snow Days — Fairfax County’s Office for Children (OFC) maintains a database of regulated child care programs in the area on its website, including many that offer the option of occasional or back-up care. OFC invites all local parents of school-aged children to browse the database and line up emergency care now for the inevitable snow days ahead. [Fairfax County OFC]
Virginia State Parks Present Free ‘First Day Hikes’ on Jan. 1 — The Commonwealth invites all to celebrate the first day of 2017 by visiting any of Virginia’s 37 state parks, with free admission. Officials are also reprising their annual photography contest — take a photo while hiking or visiting one of the state parks and post it online, and three winners will be selected. Prizes include gift certificates toward overnight stays and a year of free state park admission. [Virginia State Parks]
Once again this year, the shopping center will be the starting and finishing points for the New Year’s Day 5K, sponsored by Potomac River Running, PR Races, Dunkin’ Donuts and Commonwealth Race Management.
Even better, you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn after a night of countdown celebrations, because the race begins at 10 a.m.
The race will be professionally timed by Commonwealth Race Management and racers will be given ChronoTrack B disposable tags. The full results of the race will be posted online following the event.
Cash awards of $150, $100 and $50 will be presented to the top three male and female race finishers in each of several age categories. In addition, anyone who pre-registers for the race will receive a long-sleeved “tech” t-shirt.
Parking at Reston Town Center will be free on New Year’s Day. Strollers and dogs are prohibited along the race route.
High-resolution photos of racers will be taken by Potomac River Running and will be available for downloading for free on the store’s Flickr page after the race.
Potomac River Running is looking for volunteers to help with the event. Those interested in volunteering should email [email protected].
Advance registration is $35 and will be open until 8 p.m. on Dec. 30 online. Registration will be available for $40 during packet pickup, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 31. at Reston Town Center. Runners can register in person on race day for $40 if the event is not sold out.
That means many things will close early on Saturday for countdown celebrations, and will remain closed Monday in observance of the New Year’s holiday.
Reston Now will be publishing as usual on Monday, Jan. 2.
Reston Association and Fairfax County Government:
- Reston Association offices and facilities, including the Central Services facility, will close on Monday, Jan. 2 in observance of New Year’s Day. In addition, the Nature Center will close Dec. 31 through Jan. 2, though the trails at Walker Nature Center will remain open.
- Fairfax County government offices are also closed Monday, Jan. 2.
- Fairfax County Public Schools remain on Winter Break, with school resuming on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
County Libraries, Recreation Centers:
- Fairfax County public libraries are closed Sunday and Monday, Jan. 1 and 2.
- On Saturday, Dec. 31, all Fairfax County RECenters are open at their usual time and will close at 4 p.m. except George Washington, which is closed. All other sites such historic sites, nature centers, visitors centers and houses are closed.
- Historic sites, nature centers and Riverbend Visitors Center are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Frying Pan Farm Park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Green Springs Gardens Horticultural Center is open 12-4:30 p.m. but the Historic House is closed.
- On Sunday, Jan. 1, all RECenters except George Washington are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All historic sites and visitors centers are closed.
- More detailed information and hours for specific locations is available on the county government website.
Reston Community Centers:
- RCC Hunters Woods is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 31. and 12-5 p.m. on Jan. 1. The center is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 2.
- The Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center is open 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 and 12-4:30 p.m. on Jan. 1. The center is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 2.
- RCC Lake Anne is closed Dec. 31-Jan. 2.
Fairfax County Courts:
- Fairfax County Circuit and General District courts are open as usual on Dec. 31, and will be closed Monday, Jan. 2 in observance of New Year’s Day.
- On Saturday, Dec. 31 for New Year’s Eve, Metrorail will operate on a Saturday schedule from 7 a.m. until 3 a.m. In addition, fares will be waived between midnight and 3 a.m. thanks to a partnership with MillerCoors. Metrobus will operate on a Saturday schedule. MetroAccess subscription rides are canceled.
- On Sunday, Jan. 1, Metrorail will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight on a Sunday schedule. Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription rides are canceled.
- On Monday, Jan. 2, Metrorail will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight on a Sunday schedule. Metrobus will operate on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription rides are canceled.
- Off-peak fares will be in effect on all three days, and parking fees are waived at all Metro-operated parking facilities.
- Track work will resume on Monday, Jan. 2 on the Red, Orange, Silver and Blue Metrorail lines.
Connector Buses and Fastran:
- Fairfax Connector buses will run on a Sunday schedule on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 1 and 2. See details of all routes online.
- All Fastran neighborhood and community service transportation programs will be closed Saturday through Monday, Dec. 31 to Jan. 2.
Trash and Recycling:
- Residents should contact their individual service providers to find out their holiday collection schedules. Information about various providers throughout the county are available on the government website.
- For residents who wish to recycle household items, hazardous waste and items such as Christmas trees, the I-66 Station in Fairfax will be closed on New Year’s Day, Sunday, Jan. 1.
Runners only will use town center streets and Reston Association paths, keeping major roads open. The running store will have food and music at Reston Town Center after the race.
Online registration for the 5K is $35.
Photo via Flickr/Potomac River Running
Reston Now is off today. We will be back on Monday with more news, events and other things to know around town.
2015 was a busy year here. What are your predictions for Reston in 2016?
Thanks to all our readers — whether you discovered us when we launched in October 2013 or just started reading us yesterday — for another great year.
Meanwhile, read this funny in-and-out list from our friends at Restonian.
Surf Reston file photo
Who is ready to kick off 2016 with a race?
Potomac River Running is sponsoring the New Year’s Day 5K Jan. 1 here in Reston.
It doesn’t even begin that early — race time is 10 a.m. — so it may not even interfere with your New Year’s Eve plans.
Online registration is $35 and open through Dec. 30. Race day registration (if not sold out) will also be available for $40.
The race starts and finishes at Reston Town Center. The course is on town center streets and Reston Association paths, so no major roads will be affected.
There will be music and New Year’s Day celebrations post-race at RTC.
Lifetime Fitness in Reston is also hosting a New Year’s Day Commitment Day 5K that is open to non members.
New Year’s Day 5K 2015/Courtesy: PR Running Flickr
Get 2015 off to a healthy start with the New Year’s Day 5k at Reston Town Center.
Online registration for the 10 a.m. race is still open. Entry fee is $35 through Dec. 30. All ages are welcome.
The flat course starts and finishes at the Reston Town Center. The race goes through several streets of RTC as well as the W & OD Trail.
See a course map on PR Racing’s website.
This is a sponsored column by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. She writes twice weekly on Reston Now.
I don’t know about you, but I usually spend so much energy deciding what to do on New Year’s Eve, that I completely forget about planning about New Year’s Day! This year I thought I’d actually look into what’s going on New Year’s Day in the Reston and DC area. Here are the five activities that made my list. Chances are I’ll just decide to stay inside and drink coffee all day, but it’s nice to have good options.
- Visit the Smithsonian museums — I have to say it never occurred to me that the museums would be open on New Year’s Day. But they are. Whether you love modern art, airplanes, or dinosaurs, the Smithsonian has something for you. Visit their website to find hours and locations.
- Explore the National Zoo — Want to spend some time outside in the brisk January air? Visit the National Zoo. It should be quiet on New Year’s Day. And if you feel adventurous, you can wander on into Rock Creek park for an outdoor picnic. The website has more information.
- Take a hike — I love hiking in the winter. The air is brisk and there are no bugs. If you really want to stay local, simply pick up any of the RA trails and go for an adventure. Or head off to one of the many local parks (click here for a list). I love starting at River Bend park in Great Falls and hiking along the river into Great Falls Park to look at the falls. The dogs like it too.
- Have brunch with friends — Why should the new year festivities end at midnight? I love getting together with friends on New Year’s Day and talking about our big plans for the coming year. Between Reston Town Center, Lake Anne, and South Lakes Village Center, and there are plenty of wonderful options to choose from in Reston. If I run out of coffee, you’ll likely see me down at Lake Anne.
- Watch some college bowl games — I’m not a huge football fan, but somehow watching college football on New Year’s Day just feels right. And since I’m not emotionally invested in any of the games, it’s a stress-free activity! There are games all week, but here is the Jan. 1 lineup:
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla. – 12 p.m.
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Dallas – 12 p.m.
Capital One Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.- 1 p.m.
Outback Bowl, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. – 1 p.m.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. – 5 p.m.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., – 8:30 p.m.
However you decide to spend that day, I hope it is a fun and relaxing start to 2014. Happy New Year!