A new bill awaiting the governor's signature would allow Virginia police chiefs to set curfews during civil unrest.
The legislation, which was passed by the Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday, would give police chiefs and the other local law enforcement leaders the ability to set up curfews for up to 24 hours in the face of “an imminent threat of any civil commotion or disturbance in the nature of a riot which constitutes a clear and present danger," WRIC-TV reports. The bill had previously been passed by the Virginia Senate in a 27-12 bipartisan vote.
Under the legislation, chiefs would specify the curfew's span and the geographic area affected. Exceptions could be made for journalists, as well as medical and military personnel. Citizens also could be allowed to commute and to travel to or from home, work or a place of worship.
Curfews should last only a day, but they could be extended by a vote from a municipality's government or court order. Curfew violators could face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge and up to a year in prison, along with a fine.
The bill now goes before Gov. Glenn Youngkin for his signature. The state's 2023 legislative session ends Saturday.