Q: I was cited for a failure to yield on a road that should have had a “yield” sign (it turned out that it had been flattened in a previous accident). Is this a valid defense?

A: Perhaps, but only an experienced lawyer can tell you for sure. It all depends on the layout of the road, the ramp, the highway (if any of these elements were involved), and possibly on the placement of the sign, assuming it had been intact. Witnesses could also help, as well as your testimony and the testimony of the arresting police officer.

The crux of the matter is the lack of a warning sign at a specific location does not give a driver leeway to operate his vehicle in a reckless manner. If you drive onto a freeway's on-ramp, the Commonwealth of Virginia presumes that you should have enough common sense to slow down, look into your rear-view mirror, and check for oncoming traffic. If you are involved in an accident, you might (emphasis on “might”) have enough ammunition to sue the state for damages, though a better case could probably be made by the car that slammed into you when you failed to yield. But if you merge onto the freeway at high speed and are witnessed by a police officer, you might have difficulty defending yourself against a reckless driving charge.

Of course, some failures to yield are more serious than others. If your infraction transpired in a place where there was virtually no traffic, and no serious prospect of an accident, you might be able to argue that a “yield” sign was necessary to give you proper warning, since otherwise you would have no idea that it was incumbent upon you to slow down and look for oncoming traffic. Questions? Call the Virginia traffic attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC (888-783-9701) for a free consultation today!