There was a traffic law change in July of 2019 (one of many) that no one really paid attention to. That is until recently…
Virginia Code §46.2-861.1 now states that “the driver of any motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, red, or amber light or lights as provided in § 46.2-1022, 46.2-1023, or 46.2-1024 or subsection B of § 46.2-1026 shall (i) on a highway having at least four lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the stationary vehicle or (ii) if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.”
A violation of this provision, which essentially means that a driver failed to “move over” when a police or emergency vehicle is on the side of a highway with its emergency lights activated, in now a reckless driving ticket. Reckless driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia which comes with the possible penalty of up to one year in jail, a $2500 fine, a six-month suspension of a driver’s license, or possibly all three.
I have seen a rash of these tickets issued to drivers in the past few months in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Almost all the drivers were unaware of this requirement, much less the stiff penalties that come with a charge of reckless driving. I wanted to make everyone aware of this newer lane change requirement and if you are charged with a violation like this, feel free to call me. I have had success in either getting the charge dismissed or reduced (based on the facts of each case) by taking the matter to trial each time.