Virginia Code § 46.2-856 defines Reckless Driving Passing Two Abreast. See the language of the code
§ 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast.
WHERE PROBLEMS ARISE
Many police officers mistake ABREAST, which means side by side, with one in front of the other. There is no Virginia law saying you cannot pass two vehicles at the same time. So if you are behind two slow moving vehicles, it MAY very well be legal to pass both of them at the same time. I say MAY because I can think of circumstances where it could be considered reckless driving to pass two vehicles at once. If you don’t have enough room to pass, or you don’t have the visibility to see that far ahead. However, it would not be penalized under this code section for passing two abreast.
If you speed to pass two vehicles or commit a lane violation then that would be against the law. But there is nothing inherently against the law in Virginia if you pass two vehicles at the same time that are positioned single file, one in front of the other.
IT IS FAIRLY COMMON FOR OFFICERS TO MISTAKENLY CITE PEOPLE FOR RECKLESS DRIVING, PASSING TWO ABREAST WHO ARE ACTUALLY NOT PASSING ABREAST
As noted, this code section only criminalizes passing two vehicles that are SIDE BY SIDE. The plain meaning of abreast is shoulder to shoulder. See the following analysis by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. This is not BINDING, but it is certainly a persuasive authority:
The attorney general agrees with the plain meaning of abreast, that you have to pass two vehicles traveling side by side or shoulder to shoulder in order to violate this law. Today we represented a client improperly charged with reckless driving, passing two abreast and we got the charge dropped. Call today to speak with a traffic specialist who can properly advise you. Many attorneys, prosecutors, and officers do not realize that you are allowed to pass two vehicles in a row as long as they are not side by side and as long as you don’t violate the law in a different manner.
Every case is unique and past results do not guarantee or predict the future. Call today for a free consultation: 8048734004.