Not Yielding to Stationary Emergency Vehicles (46.2-921)
Most drivers know to move over when there is an emergency vehicle approaching from behind them with their lights on. However, many do not realize there Virginia requires the driver to move over if the emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with its lights on as well. But what if you cannot move over due to traffic? The statute requires that a driver, “proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.” Not yielding to stationary emergency vehicles may not seem like a serious offense, but it can carry serious consequences. The first portion of the statute specifies what is required of a driver approaching a stationary emergency vehicle. Subsection A states:
- 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…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.
The second section of the code section for not yielding to stationary emergency vehicles specifies the consequences. The Virginia code states that a first violation of this section is classified as a traffic infraction. A first violation of not yielding to stationary emergency vehicles carries 4 demerit points on your Virginia license and a maximum fine of $250. This might not seem too bad as it can be prepaid online. However, the code specifies any subsequent offenses in which the vehicle involved has, “flashing, blinking, or alternating blue or red lights,” it is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Subsection B of the Not Yielding to Stationary Emergency Vehicles statute specifically states,
- A violation of any provision of this section shall be punishable as a traffic infraction, expect 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.
A second offense of not yielding to a stationary emergency vehicle is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and carries a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $2,500.00. Additionally, reckless driving is a six (6) point offense on your driving record. A reckless driving conviction stays on your driving record for 11 years and reckless driving remains on a criminal record for the rest of your life and cannot be expunged.
The code section goes on further to detail that there can be even more consequences if the violation of this code section resulted in property damage. If there is damage to another person’s property, the court can further order that the driver’s driving privilege be suspended for up to a year. Further, if there were any injuries sustained as a result of a violation of not yielding to stationary emergency vehicles, then the court can potentially suspend a driver’s privilege to drive for up to two years, in addition to the penalties above. The Virginia code section for Not Yielding to Stationary Emergency Vehicle, Section C states:
- 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.
- The provision of this section shall not apply in highway work zones as defined in 46.2-878.1.