One of our clients told us a story where he was driving along at a safe rate of speed below the speed limit. When he moved over and passed by a police officer stopped on the side of the road, the officer chased him down.
While he did not get a ticket, he definitely felt harassed. He wanted to know why the officer pulled him over when he was clearly going below the speed limit.
How Virginia’s Move Over Law Works
The first thing you should know is Virginia’s move over law requires that if it is a two-lane road, that is one lane going each way, that you simply slow down and move at a safe speed.
If it is two lanes each way or more, then you are required to move into the lane away from the officer, presumably the middle or left lane, and then move at a safe rate of speed.
The terms “safe rate of speed” and several other terms in the statute are somewhat vague, including words like “reasonable” and “safe.” So, who decides? Well, our client’s argument was that the speed limit was 45 MPH and they were going less than 45 MPH. Therefore, they felt they were safe.
Who Determines Whether You Were Driving Safe Or Not?
The person that decides whether you were driving safe or not is the judge. The judge is the one person involved in all of this who could not see what happened, was not there when the incident occurred, and has no real idea whether it was safe.
Who do you think the judge is going to rely on to decide whether or not your driving was safe? Of course, the judge is going to rely on the police officer. As a practical matter, it is the police officer that decides what is reasonable in that place and what is safe.
The important thing to remember here is that what seems safe to us while we are ensconced in metal and have seatbelts on us may not be what seems safe to the officer who is protected by no more than their uniform while standing on the side of the road as cars whiz by.
45 MPH seems pretty slow when you are driving, but it may seem blindingly fast when you are watching it go by on the side of the road.
The Best Way To Avoid Any Issues
Do more than you think is safe and take extra care to stay safe out there. If you would like to learn more about Virginia’s Move Over law or any other aspect of the law, feel free to give our law firm a call.