Improper lane change (otherwise known as failure to obey lane markings) is a common charge in Fairfax County. Because many split-second decisions must be made on the highway, sometimes, erratic maneuvers happen. The person is not trying to be aggressive or otherwise cause disturbances. Rather, perhaps a lane opens up or an important turn lane quickly appears. Unfortunately, certain lane charges are illegal under § 46.2-804.
Improper Lane Change Law
The statute requires that any vehicle going slower than other vehicles must be driven in the farthest right lane. The exception to this requirement is if they are passing another vehicle or are preparing for a left turn.
The other requirement is for a person to maintain their lane. This means that a vehicle remain within a lane at all times and not moved from that lane until the lane change can be made safely. What we see in many cases is a lane opening up next to the person and they quickly move over. However, if there is approaching traffic that has already reached the area where the vehicle making the lane change is, the maneuver is not considered a "safe" one by this statute. We have all been in the situation where our lane is moving while the next lane over is at a standstill. A vehicle then darts out in front of you and your lane then comes to a halt. As a result, you almost strike the vehicle now in front of you because you gave enough room for the original car in front of you but not that new vehicle. Their improper lane change almost caused a collision! That would be considered an improper lane change in Fairfax County.
In other cases, things can get a little more confusing. For example, when traveling next to a double traffic line where the nearest line is solid and the farther one is a broken line, a vehicle may not be driven left of the line unless unless making a left turn into another road or entrance. In the event the highway is marked with solid double yellow lines, a vehicle may not be driven left of those lines unless turning left. Finally, any double white lines may not be crossed at all.
The penalty for a conviction for an improper lane change or failure to obey lane markings is 4 demerit points with a maximum fine of $250. This means a loss of 4 points on your driving record. The conviction will remain on your driving record for 3 years.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer for an Improper Lane Change
If you have a good driving record or are otherwise not guilty of the charge, a traffic lawyer can help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and will let you know if it is worth hiring a lawyer. In many cases, we can get the charge reduced to a no-point non-moving violation that will not affect DMV points or insurance rates. In other instances, we can help you prepare for a trial and make the Fairfax County officer or trooper prove their case.
We average above 5 traffic cases a week and know what results you can expect. We also know that if you go to court by yourself you have a much higher chance of a conviction than if you have a lawyer present with you. In many cases, however, we can appear on your behalf for court and resolve the case without you needing to appear. Our goal is to resolve your charge as favorable and as stress-free as possible.