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Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis
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Little Known Law Can Cost You Big Bucks

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Did you know you’re legally required to move into the next lane or slow down by 20mph if an emergency vehicle (e.g. police car) is stopped on the side of the highway? If you didn’t know, that’s okay. Approximately 71 percent of Americans don’t know about this law either. You may also be shocked to discover that violating this "move over" law could cost you $2500.

Virginia (VA) adopted this law in 2002 and violating it is a class 1 misdemeanor. Here’s the exact language of the VA law:

§ 46.2-921.1. Drivers to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways; penalties.

The driver of any motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, as defined in § 46.2-920, that is displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency light or lights as provided in §§ 46.2-1022, 46.2-1023, and 46.2-1024, 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 that occupied by the stationary emergency vehicle or (ii) if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.

It’s important to follow this law, not just to avoid the penalties, but also for the fact that 164 police officers have been killed since 1999 due to cars hitting them while the officer was pulled over on the side of the road, according to moveoveramerica.com.

Here’s a public service announcement about the "move over" law…


So the next time you’re on the road and see a police officer giving an unfortunate driver a ticket, remember to change lanes or slow down. If you don’t, you could be the next driver getting a ticket.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.


1 Comment

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Important advice, these people are out doing their jobs you need to do everything possible as a driver to help with that. I’ve seen a number of cases where officers out on the road have been hit. Seems like the flashing lights should be a big hint. Slow down and keep a good look out.