UPDATE: This law has been changed as of July 1, 2019 and Virginia now classifies Failure to Move Over for an Emergency Vehicle as Reckless Driving. Click here to read more about the new law.
(Code section §46.2-921.1 mentioned below has been repealed):
Drivers in Virginia should be aware of Virginia’s Move Over Law which was written to protect police officers. Virginia Code §46.2-921.1 explains that a driver must move over a lane when passing a trooper or another law enforcement officer’s stationary vehicle when the vehicle is “displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, red, or amber light or lights.” The law was expanded in July of 2010 to apply to other emergency response vehicles, like ambulances and tow trucks, as well as highway maintenance vehicles.
The code section explains that if “changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe”, the driver should “proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.” I interpret this to mean that you should slow down if you are unable to move over safely.
A first time violation of this statute is punishable as a traffic infraction. However, a second or subsequent violation of this statute is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor when such violation involved a vehicle with flashing, blinking, or alternating blue or red lights. In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor can be punished with jail time of up to 1 year and fines of up to $2,500.
There may also be additional penalties if an accident occurs. Virginia Code §46.2-921.1 explains:
“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 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. If the violation resulted in the death of 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 two years.”
If you have been charged with failure to move over, give us a call at 757-932-0464 for a free consultation.