Prince William County is a very congested area but sudden emergencies can happen that result in the need to stop the vehicle while on a highway. In some cases stopping on a highway is legal while, in other cases, it is not. If convicted of stopping on a highway, the DMV will assess 3-points off your driving record and the conviction will remain on the driving record for 3 years. Due to the point deduction, stopping on a highway is a moving violation. It is not a major ticket but will appear on your driving record and an attorney can help avoid a conviction by either negotiating a reduction of the charge or working towards outright dismissal.
§46.2-888: Stopping on Highways
Virginia Code §46.2-888 allows stopping on a highway only if there is an emergency, accident, or mechanical breakdown. However, the emergency flashing lights of the stopped vehicle must be activated (hazard lights) and the vehicle must be moved from the roadway if possible so to not obstruct or impede traffic. Any other stopping on a highway that impedes or renders dangerous the use of the highway by others is illegal under this code section.
We have had clients cited for stopping on a highway after they ran of out of gas. While this unfortunate occurrence seems beyond their control, Thomas v. Settle, 247 VA. 15 (1994) held that running out of fuel it is not considered a "mechanical breakdown" if the vehicle runs out of fuel and stops on a highway. The court held that the driver knew, or should have known, that the vehicle would be out of fuel.
In addition, we have had many cases where our client was pulled over by the police for a violation and did not pull over completely off of the roadway. In those cases, it is very possible that the officer will cite the person for the original violation and for stopping on a highway because they were impeding traffic by not being pulled over completely off the road. For the most part Judges are sympathetic under these circumstances because they know the person was simply trying to pull over and were likely stressed seeing the officer's emergency lights behind them.
Finally, to be guilty of stopping on a highway, the Commonwealth must still prove that the individual impeded traffic or made it dangerous for other drivers. This will depend on the facts of each case as to whether the highway was made dangerous or traffic impeded for someone stopping on a highway.
If you wish to contest your stopping on a highway charge, we can help. We handle all localities in Prince William County including the City of Manassas, Manassas Park, Town of Occoquan, Town of Dumfries, and Town of Haymarket. We want to help you protect your driving record as much as you do.