We were unable to locate any statutes making it illegal to change lanes in an intersection in Virginia.
That’s not too surprising because few states do so.
Read on to discover pertinent driving laws in Virginia that you should know about.
Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In Virginia? (EXPLAINED)
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Where Are The Laws That I Can Look To In Order To Confirm Whether Lane Changes In An Intersection In This State Are Legal/Illegal?
The best place to look to confirm whether a maneuver is legal (or not) is the current and applicable laws of the state you are present in (not the DMV handbook or a news article).
For right-of-way, Virginia makes special mention of “T” intersections in statute § 46.2-824 :
When vehicles arrive at approximately the same time at an uncontrolled “T” intersection, the driver of the vehicle on the highway that intersects but does not cross the other highway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle traveling on the other highway.
Source: Virginia Traffic Code § 46.2-824
Uncontrolled intersections with two vehicles entering together traveling in the same direction are covered under statute § 46.2-820:
Except as otherwise provided in this article, when two vehicles approach or enter an uncontrolled intersection at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
Source: Virginia Traffic Code § 46.2-820
Also, passing another vehicle moving in opposite directions is provided for under statute § 46.2-837:
Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions on highways not marked to indicate traffic lanes shall pass each other to the right, each giving to the other, as nearly as possible, one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway.
Source: Virginia Traffic Code § 46.2-837
Lastly, with making an overtaking maneuver, statute § 46.2-838 provides for it:
A. The driver of any vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at least two feet to the left of the overtaken vehicle and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle, except as otherwise provided in this article.
B. The driver of any motor vehicle, upon overtaking a stationary vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating amber light as provided in § 46.2-892 or subdivision A 10 of § 46.2-1025, shall proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.
Source: Virginia Traffic Code § 46.2-838
Neither changing lanes nor overtaking at an intersection was found to be prohibited, as long as it is conducted safely.
Why Do People Generally Think That It’s Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection?
Some may believe it is illegal to change lanes in an intersection. But for Virginia, at least, that’s untrue.
It is pretty common to be taught that you should not change lanes in intersections while learning to drive.
This is more about driving safely (and making good decisions).
If It Is Not Illegal In Virginia To Change Lanes In An Intersection, Why Did I Get A Ticket?
Tickets get issued for many reasons. Sometimes, multiple traffic law infractions are made but other times it is just one.
For example, following too closely behind a vehicle or towed trailer, including not paying attention to speed and other factors, could be in breach of statute § 46.2-816:
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.
Going above the maximum or below the minimum speed limits could violate statutes relating to this too.
Unwise lane changes that confused other drivers, or weaving through traffic and not signaling, would all be seen as bad driving that potentially breaches the law.
Also, sometimes driving behavior may cause a law enforcement officer to stop you and wish to test your sobriety.
This could occur when your driving manner was unsteady or random, rather than a single driving error indicating a genuine mistake.
What Happens If A Car Accident Results?
Careless driving that affects other citizens is against the law when it impacts their safety.
Serious bodily injury is a major concern in any accident.
Genuine errors or poor decisions behind the wheel leading to an accident are treated more favorably compared to reckless or aggressive driving that contributed to it.
Improper, reckless, or aggressive driving take several forms.
When a car accident in an intersection appears to have occurred due to one of the above causes, there’s trouble brewing.
Ultimately, conferring with a Virginia motor vehicle accident attorney can be worthwhile early on, even if you have car insurance, to put some of your anxieties to bed.
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