Virginia Code § 46.2-856 defines Reckless Driving Passing Two Abreast. See the language of the code

§ 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast.

A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction, except on highways having separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel, or on designated one-way streets or highways. This section shall not apply, however, to a motor vehicle passing two other vehicles when one or both of such other vehicles is a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall this section apply to a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped passing two other vehicles.

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:

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION ON PASSING TWO ABREAST

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.

READ OUR REVIEWS

Contact Us

Contact Leavitt & Martin, PLLC. • Free Initial Consultations

Our office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but you can call anytime, 24 hours a day, and we can often make weekend and evening appointments available.

Offices

Midlothian

116-B Walton Park Ln.
Midlothian, VA 23114

Emporia

312 South Main Street
Emporia, Virginia 23847

Connect with Us