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Old 12-09-2009, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
10,830 posts, read 26,338,550 times
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I have slowed down when I cannot change lanes, and I can tell you that I slow waaaay down, not from 45 to 40, but say 45 to 25. I even slow down when it's a non-emergency vehicle by the side of the road, since you never know when you might have to stop to help someone in need. What I find most perplexing, though, is when a vehicle stops on the left, since you have to get to the right to pass, and go slowly on a two-lane road.

I say that because I check -- a friend of a family member died a while back after having a massive heart attack. She was able to stop the vehicle, but it took a while for the police to come, since nobody called. She survived, but died soon thereafter, never regaining consciousness. Nobody can say how many cars might have blown past, but I always check, since then you know if you have to call 9-1-1 or just make sure that the police know the vehicle is there.

I don't think the punishment is too stiff, however, since it puts LEO/emergency personnel at needless danger, and people need to be aware of that fact.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:48 AM
 
813 posts, read 1,105,164 times
Reputation: 1759
This is NOT a widely known traffic rule (just like the requirement to come to a full stop before turning right at a red light) and thus ought to be the subject of some public service announcements.

I respect law enforcement and understand their concern about this when they've pulled someone over and are stopped on the shoulder. But I think law enforcement, and judges, ought to understand the real world of driving, especially driving in northern Virginia. I've often seen on I-66 the police pulling over cars for violating the HOV-2 rule (and I'm very glad for that), but in morning rush hour on a two-lane road with very heavy traffic, how is everybody supposed to move to the left-hand lane? Similarly, if I'm on I-81 in the right hand lane and caught in heavy truck traffic -- a semi tailgating me and another moving up on my left -- how am I supposed to slow down or move over? Just saying that while some previous posters have talked about using common sense in getting out of the way of law enforcement, let's also consider using common sense to avoid creating an even more dangerous traffic situation in certain circumstances.
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:48 AM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,472 posts, read 2,693,168 times
Reputation: 1276
Quote:
Originally Posted by anniesmom View Post
Okay, so here's an update on my situation:

I went to court a few days ago. The judge looked at the charge for several minutes and asked the officer "what are you charging her with?". The officer explained then the judge asked him for the law's section code and then read it for several minutes.

He then found me guilty for not moving over and fined me $30. I explicitly asked him about the misdemeanor charge and he assured me that this was just a "traffic offense", not a "criminal" one. On the official paper work that they gave me after I paid the fine, it said "DMV: NOT SENT" .

However, today when I went to the Arlington court website to check the status of my case, it showed "Charge type: class 1 misdemeanor Disposition: guilty". How or who should I contact to get this corrected? The judge clearly told me twice when I asked that it was just a traffic offense. I'm a defense contractor and I'm really worried about this because my clearance is expiring soon.

Can anybody help?
Thanks
LOL, the judge didn't even know about it. Well, another VA officer manned tax/lawyer welfare scheme. Thank goodness you had a judge with some common sense in contrast to the officer that gave you the ticket. If this was the first time, he/she should have given you a warning, but that wouldn't have raised money.

Let me be clear, I support the law entirely. But it's proper use is to educate people to the need to pull out of the adjacent lane. That involves weekly public service announcements to educate the transient population here, warning those on first offenses, and throwing the book at repeat offenders. That kind of effort would protect officers, if that were the real intent.
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:50 AM
 
437 posts, read 1,071,954 times
Reputation: 239
Quote:
Originally Posted by ICS67 View Post
This is NOT a widely known traffic rule (just like the requirement to come to a full stop before turning right at a red light) and thus ought to be the subject of some public service announcements.

I respect law enforcement and understand their concern about this when they've pulled someone over and are stopped on the shoulder. But I think law enforcement, and judges, ought to understand the real world of driving, especially driving in northern Virginia. I've often seen on I-66 the police pulling over cars for violating the HOV-2 rule (and I'm very glad for that), but in morning rush hour on a two-lane road with very heavy traffic, how is everybody supposed to move to the left-hand lane? Similarly, if I'm on I-81 in the right hand lane and caught in heavy truck traffic -- a semi tailgating me and another moving up on my left -- how am I supposed to slow down or move over? Just saying that while some previous posters have talked about using common sense in getting out of the way of law enforcement, let's also consider using common sense to avoid creating an even more dangerous traffic situation in certain circumstances.
Slowing down is real easy. You put your foot on the brake pedal in front of you. If you think someone is tailgating and will rear end you, tap it first then brake. If they're behind you in the same lane with an emergency vehicle on the shoulder, they should be slowing down too...

I was taught to slow down or change lanes for any vehicle stopped on the shoulder, especially emergency vehicles, as you never know what is going on there.

I agree with you that the law should be better publicized. I also think a class 1 misdemeanor is pretty harsh. But let's not get it twisted, it's simple common sense whether you know about the law or not. The real problem is that people are simply not trained well enough to drive in the first place. I think it's merely responsible driving to slow down or move over for activity of any sort on the shoulder, a deer, emergency vehicle, flat tire, whatever. Most drivers don't REALLY seem to realize they are driving such a deadly projectile.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:33 PM
 
2,670 posts, read 4,519,008 times
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Add me to the list of those who have already posted that they try to be considerate when passing a stopped vehicle, but did not know about this law. Thank you, anniesmom, you have helped me today.
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Old 01-27-2011, 01:42 PM
 
1 posts, read 2,291 times
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Hello Annie's Mom--

The same thing happened to me, and along with 71% of the citiziens of VA, I did NOT know about this law either. In the 32 years that I have driven, I have had two minor speeding tickets. (the last one was around 6 years ago.) The only accident I have ever had was a VERY small fender bender when I was in college 25 years ago.) I have always considered myself an EXTREMELY cautious and deliberate driver. I do not particularly like to drive on roads where the speed limit is 55 or over, because every time I do, some driver scares me by either being on their cell phone, or by driving too fast or sporadically. I do not like to make quick lane changes because while I am driving safely in the right lane, many people barrel down the left lane at MUCH higher speeds.

As I was travelling at speed limit in the right lane, east on Route 50 at around 8am, I saw two cars parked up ahead on the right side of the road. My first thought was to KEEP MY EYES on them, and stay driving safely in the right lane instead of taking my eyes off the road long enough to make sure no one was in my blind spot or travelling fast up on my left. In order to make a lane change, I check my rear view mirror, side view mirrors, turn on my blinker, and quickly look over my left shoulder. This takes several seconds, and in this situation, it would have taken my eyes off the cars ahead of me. So,I kept my eyes fixed on the stopped cars, wondering what they were doing, since they looked like two dark cars, one with a small blue turning light. As I was about one or two car lengths away from the stopped cars, a police man jumped out and threw his arm over his head, pointing to my left. (he was in an unmarked car that looked like a fancy black mustang) I asked my daughter and her friend what they thought he was trying to tell me and my daughter said, oh he probably wasn't even pointing at you. So, in my confusion, I found the next place in the road that I felt safe pulling into and stopped my car. The officer came up and said "you failed to change lanes when approaching my vehicle." Still confused, I said, oh, I'm sorry. After taking my license he quickly came back and told me to sign the paper and show up at the court house on the date listed on the paper. I, still confused and scared, said "oh, even if I pay the ticket?" He then said the scariest words I have EVER heard: The fine is $2500, possible license revocation, and UP TO 12 MONTHS IN JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I said, oh my gosh, again, I'm sorry. He told me I could go. As I shakenly pulled back on the road and asked my daugher and her friend who have their permits but not yet their licenses if they had heard of this law, they said no. So, the rest of the way to school and home I was in a state of shock and horror. ME, a 48 year old housewife/office worker, who has NEVER broken ANY law and who is always a very CAREFUL driver (my husband and friends agree--I am always telling my husband to slow down and not to follow the cars in front of him so closely!) is being accused of a CRIME?!!!!!

I came home, told my husband and everyone I could what had happened. They all said they did not know about this law and the one person who said they had HEARD of it said they had NO IDEA that the penalty was so stiff. I then did a lot of on-line research, and found that 71% of the people polled said they were uninformed about this law and its penalties!!!!!

I find this penalty AGGREGIOUS. I was wondering what happened when you went to court, Annie's mom, and wonder if you can tell me. It REALLY concerns me that because English is not your first language and because you did not have the money for any attorney, that you may have been treated unfairly. I would be perfectly ok with paying a fine (even a stiff fine, because although I feel the circumstances to be very unfair, I did not know about the law) but being made to show up at the court house and worrying all month about having a CRIMINAL charge on my record is crazy. I am now petrified to drive, worrying that I could possibly break some other law that I did not know about! My husband is very upset because he has been driving me everywhere and so is my daughter.

PLEASE let me know what happened when you went to court. I will be collecting data and will let you know what I find out. I have contacted an attorney and although I cannot afford one either (my husband & I own our own business--he is a chiropractor- and last year we barely made it above the poverty level) I am a law-abiding citizen and the thought of a CRIMINAL offense on my record is absolutely reprehensible, so I will go into debt to hire this lawyer. This is a miscarriage of justice and from what I can find out, Virginia is the only state with this severe penalty. Most states list a fine of $50 to $500--NOT a criminal charge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! Thanks in advance for letting me know what happeded to you and how you are doing.
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Old 01-27-2011, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
6,553 posts, read 10,840,172 times
Reputation: 5555
First off you were released on a summons and you will not be convicted of a criminal charge so to speak. The conviction goes to DMV, if there is one, and is only listed on your driving record as the convicted charge. It will never be on a criminal record. (Find the Reckless Driving thread and see my explanation) But basically since you were not arrested and charged on a warrant this is a traffic charge that can be fined as a criminal charge. I would go into court w/o an attorney and look for the prosecutor and ask for a reduction. The officer will have a copy of your driving record or you can obtain your own at DMV. If you're not satisfied with what the prosecutor is offering you have the right to a continuance to obtain a lawyer if you want. You will NOT go to jail and you will see nothing close to the maximum fine.
That said. You posted this: "I do not particularly like to drive on roads where the speed limit is 55 or over, because every time I do, some driver scares me by either being on their cell phone, or by driving too fast" Imagine being a police officer on the road and worrying about not only what you've listed but also drivers who are drunk, on drugs, unstable for whatever reason or just driving with their HUTA. Many police officers names are listed on the Memorial Wall in DC from being struck by vehicles along the road. Some of these drivers were plain ole drivers just like you. I have a friend who is lucky to be alive. She was behind a stranded motorist along RT 28 when a car ran off the road and trapped her, the officer, in between two cars. Both legs were demolished.

I'm sure there was no ill will on your part but nearly every state in the union has this law. It has been on the news, commercials, in newspapers and other forms of media.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:10 PM
 
254 posts, read 532,821 times
Reputation: 145
I see that "common sense" is used a lot in this thread... and still half of the people commenting were not aware or would not change to the left side automatically, which means to me that is not really common sense.

I think this law needs a little more advertising.
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Old 01-28-2011, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Central Maine
4,686 posts, read 5,518,600 times
Reputation: 4966
Quote:
Originally Posted by annavh View Post
The officer came up and said "you failed to change lanes when approaching my vehicle." Still confused, I said, oh, I'm sorry. After taking my license he quickly came back and told me to sign the paper and show up at the court house on the date listed on the paper. I, still confused and scared, said "oh, even if I pay the ticket?" He then said the scariest words I have EVER heard: The fine is $2500, possible license revocation, and UP TO 12 MONTHS IN JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I said, oh my gosh, again, I'm sorry. He told me I could go.
You say that you were given a ticket. What does the ticket say? Not what did the officer say, but what did the ticket say? I ask because as far as I can tell, failure to move over is a traffic citation, assuming this was your first violation of this law.

See:

Virginia State Police - Slow Down/Move Over Law

LIS > Code of Virginia > 46.2-921.1

If this was your second violation, then it's a Class 1 misdemeanor, and that is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2500, or both.

BTW, the law was approved in 2002, and at that time the only penalty was described as: Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. This wording was also present when the law was modified in 2008.

However, in 2010 the law was modified once again, and among the changes was a change to the penalty: A violation of any provision of this section shall be punishable as a traffic infraction, except that a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this section, when such violation involved a vehicle with flashing, blinking, or alternating blue or red lights, shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
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Old 01-28-2011, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Central Maine
1,472 posts, read 2,693,168 times
Reputation: 1276
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lebowsky View Post
I see that "common sense" is used a lot in this thread... and still half of the people commenting were not aware or would not change to the left side automatically, which means to me that is not really common sense.

I think this law needs a little more advertising.
This is just the latest and greatest driving tax/lawyer gift fund con job by Virginia. It is designed to raise taxes and benefit lawyers. If it were designed to improve officer safety, it would be on TV all the time. It isn't because that isn't the intent of this law.

The only way to stop it is to write your elected representatives. Other then that, you are wasting your breath. The Officer is just doing what his job has been converted to: tax collector.
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