Q: A stalled driver waved me past him at a railroad crossing, but a police officer on the other side still handed me a ticket. What should I do?

A: Technically, the police officer was well within his rights to hand you a ticket—but then again, we don't want to live in a society where officials blindly follow the “rule book” and refuse to take extenuating circumstances into account. In the state of Virginia, it's illegal to pass a stopped or moving vehicle at a railroad crossing, if that crossing is situated on a two-lane road (that is, one lane going in either direction). The reason for this should be self-evident; if there happens to be a train coming, the driver doing the passing is putting himself, the other motorist, and the people on the train at risk.

Assuming that the railroad crossing's signals hadn't been activated and there was no train to be seen for miles in either direction, a traffic court would be open to dismissing or reducing your reckless driving citation (which is no small thing in its own right, saving you potential penalties of thousands of dollars in fines and six points added to your driving record). However, if the other driver innocently waved you around his stalled vehicle, and you took that as an invitation to go over the crossing when the warning signals had already been activated, you probably deserved your ticket. (Whether or not the other driver would be liable for damages in the event of a crash is something only an experienced lawyer can tell you!)

Being cited for reckless driving for your behavior at a railroad crossing is no small matter, which is why you need an experienced defense attorney at your side. Call the law firm of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC today for a free consultation!