Here is a well written and clear explanation of what is commonly refereed to as the “Move Over/Slow Down” law in Virginia.
This confusing and commonly misunderstood law says that if there is an emergency vehicle with lights flashing in the right lane/breakdown lane on a highway, a driver must move over one lane unless unsafe to do so, in which case he must “proceed with due caution”.
Merely “slowing down” is not sufficient, and may result in a criminal charge of reckless driving under Virginia statute § 46.2-921.1 if a police officer questions your decision. Whether or not it was “unsafe” for you to move over will be a decision for a judge, and the wrong decision could result in jail time, license suspension, and a criminal record.
Very few Virginians truly understand this complicated distinction, and the consequences and serious criminal penalties that can result.
The word to the wise is – make every effort to always Move Over a lane on the highway with a police car on the side of the road. If you don’t, your judgment can always be questioned. You don’t want to be in a position of depending on the temperament of the officer and the judge in court, since those calls won’t always go in your favor.
And, of course, you’ll want a good reckless driving defense lawyer on your side if you find yourself in court.