Virginia delegate working to change state's swearing laws

Virginia House of Delegates Photo courtesy: WUSA9
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ARLINGTON, CO., Va. (WUSA9) In Virginia, it is against the law to swear in public. However, a new bill could soon put an end to that rule.

Virginia State Delegate Michael Webert, R-Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock and Warren counties, has pre-filed House Bill 31 for the 2018 session. The proposal would eliminate the crime of profanely swearing or cursing in public, which is currently punishable in Virginia as a Class 4 misdemeanor. Offenders can receive a fine of up to $250.

Webert called the existing law "antiquated."

"It's been found to be unconstitutional, and we still haven't removed it," he said.

Webert has other concerns.

He said the current law could give good citizens criminal records. Webert added that sometimes just defining what is profane can also be hard.

"Society is constantly changing along with what is profane or not," he said.

Luis Alvarado told WUSA9 he supports changing the current law in Arlington County.

"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental basic human rights that we have and one of the fundamental freedoms of this country."

This will be the third session in a row that Webert has proposed legislation regarding swearing.

He said in the past; some lawmakers might have feared that by supporting the legislation they would look like they are promoting indecency.

However, Webert thinks this upcoming session his bill will find a lot of bipartisan support in Richmond.

"You've got some of the more Libertarian-minded folks like some of my colleagues, and you've got some of the more liberal folks, so to speak, who have all said this is something I would definitely for," he said.