You Have to Drive Carefully Past a Parked Emergency Vehicle – But Only if You Know It’s an Emergency Vehicle
A few years ago, the state of Virginia implemented the “Slow Down, Move Over” law, addressing driver responsibility when passing parked emergency vehicles (police cars, fire engines, ambulances, road-repair vehicles, etc.). This law passed in response to a glut of roadside incidents (not only in Virginia, but all over the country) in which emergency personnel were killed or injured by careless drivers.
You should always drive extra-carefully whenever you pass any vehicle stopped along the side of the road, but the Virginia law singles out government vehicles equipped with “flashing, blinking, or alternating red and blue lights.” What this means is that the police can't throw the book at you if a government vehicle wasn't immediately recognizable as such because it wasn't flashing its lights (technically, the “Slow Down, Move Over” law requires you to slow down significantly and, if you're on a four-lane highway, move to the left-most lane).
Of course, an unmarked government vehicle by the side of the road doesn't give you the leeway to behave irresponsibly. If the police can't nab you on a “Slow Down, Move Over” violation, they have plenty of other weapons at their disposal that can both lighten your wallet and add points to your driving record. Questions? Call the traffic lawyers at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman for a free consultation!