MOVE OVER LAW IN VIRGINIA IS ONCE AGAIN A RECKLESS DRIVING TICKET IN VA
If you received a ticket in Virginia for failure to move over because a police car was parked on the side of the road and its lights were flashing, then you have just been charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. This is a serious traffic ticket. Do not take it lightly.
So first, here is some history. This traffic violation was first codified in Virginia Code 46.2-921.1. When it was first written, it was listed as a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The maximum penalty was 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine. Then the Virginia Code was amended and a first offense was a moving violation that carried 6 points and a $250 fine. A second offense was a Class 1 misdemeanor.
You may be asking why the history is important. It is important because you need to understand how seriously it is being prosecuted now in VA. The Virginia legislature repealed 46.2-921.1 and moved the new code section to 46.2-861.1 and made it a class 1 misdemeanor again. So once again, since it is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, you face the maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, $2500 fine and 6 points on your driving record.
Who are the individuals who are most affected by this new law? People who have a security clearance, immigration concerns, pilots, law enforcement officers, etc. are some of the different individuals most at risk.
A VA Code 46.2-861.1 ticket is no longer a simple moving violation. You really should consider hiring a VA traffic lawyer. The reality is this can happen to anyone. For a lot of traffic offenses that are class 1 misdemeanors, you have to take an active role in violating the law. For example, to be convicted of most types of reckless driving, you have to actively violate the law, whether that is through speeding, driving recklessly and endangering life, limb or property, etc. The same applies if you are charged with a DUI or driving on a suspended license or driving without a license.
This traffic ticket on the other hand can simply happen because you didn’t think you had enough time or room to switch over to another lane and move over from where the police officer is parked. VA Code 46.2-861.1 does give you the option of slowing down if you cannot move over. The problem with that is now it is your word against that of a police officer. More often than not, in this kind of situation, you will probably have to go to trial to avoid a conviction of 46.2-861.1. Why? Because in a lot of these cases, the prosecutor will not cut you a break and you will be faced with the possibility of being convicted of VA Code 46.2-861.1 violation and have a class 1 misdemeanor conviction on your record or you have to go to trial and prove you did not do anything wrong.
It is for this reason I strongly urge you to call my office and speak to either myself or one of the other skilled Virginia traffic lawyers in my office. A Virginia traffic lawyer in my office will discuss your case and talk about your options and how we can try to defend against a conviction of a VA Code 46.2-861.1 (Virginia Class 1 Misdemeanor Offense).
The reality is that there are options and we know that because we have defended clients in the past of the same offense when it is was written under VA Code 46.2-921.1.
The following is the Virginia Code 46.2-861.1 in its entirety:
Section 46.2-861.1 – Drivers to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary vehicles displaying certain warning lights on highways; penalties.
- 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 any provision of this subsection is reckless driving.
- The driver of any motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating amber light or lights as provided in subdivision A 1 or 2 of § 46.2-1025 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 any provision of this subsection shall be punishable as a traffic infraction.
- If the violation resulted in damage to property of another person, the court may, in addition, order the suspension of the driver’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle for not more than one year. If the violation resulted in injury or death to another person, the court may, in addition to any other penalty imposed, order the suspension of the driver’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle for not more than two years.
- The provisions of this section shall not apply in highway work zones as defined in § 46.2-878.1.