Stop Sign Violations

Failure to Obey a Highway Sign (stop sign)

One of the most commonly charged traffic infractions in Virginia is for failure to obey a highway sign. § 46.2-830. It is charged so often because it covers a wide range of offenses. All the officer must show is that the driver did not obey a lawfully erected "traffic control device." A sign, signal, marking, or other device used to regulate, warn, or guide traffic placed on, over, or adjacent to a street, highway, private road open to public travel... qualifies as a traffic control device.

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The traffic control device is required to be in a proper position and sufficiently observable to ordinary people. Therefore, if the sign is difficult to read because it has been obscured by graffiti, or otherwise covered in a way that makes the sign illegible you may have a valid defense. Also, if the sign is no longer standing or has fallen over the device may no longer be in compliance with the statute. The device must also have been posted by the proper authority. If a private party has erected the sign, it may not fall within the type of signs covered by the statute.

Failure to Yield Entering a Highway

Another commonly charged stop sign violation is failure to yield entering a highway, 46.2-821. There is also a similar version to this statute, 46.2-863, failure to yield the right of way entering a highway, which qualifies as reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.

46.2-821 covers both (1) where there is a stop sign present before entering a public road, and (2) where there is a yield sign present before entering a public road. A violation of this section is punishable by up to a $250 fine.

(1) If there is a stop sign present, then the driver must stop at the line marking by the stop sign. If there is a cross walk instead of a line marking, the driver must stop at the cross walk. If neither exist, you must stop prior to entering the intersection at the point where you will have a good view of approaching traffic. You must then wait until traffic is clear.

(2) If there is a yield sign present the driver is required to slow down to a reasonable speed based on the conditions and wait until it is safe to enter the road. If safety requires that you need to come to a stop before entering the road then you must do so, following the rules as if there was a stop sign present.

Failure to yield the right of way entering a highway

§ 46.2-863. Failure to yield the right of way entering a highway. This statute qualifies as reckless driving in Virginia, and is a crime. It is technically punishable by up a year in jail, a $2500 fine, and a 6 month license suspension, although these maximum penalties are rarely applied for a violation of this section. It is important to understand how local judges handle these cases, so you should always contact a local traffic lawyer.

To violate this section the driver must (1) come from a side road, (2) fail to bring his vehicle to a complete stop (3) before entering a public road (4) when traffic is approaching on the public road within 500 feet of the side road entrance (5) with no yield sign present or (6) if a yield sign is present fails to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.

As with virtually any traffic case, any statements you make to the officer are very important. If you didn't tell the officer what happened, and he wasn't there to see what happened, he will not be able to testify as to what he thought did happen unless he was actually there to see what happened, and depending on the other evidence in your case, it may be dismissed. Note that § 46.2-862 does not require that you stop at a certain line, but merely come to a complete stop sometime prior to entering the public road (presuming there is no yield sign present).

§ 46.2-826. Stop before entering public highway or sidewalk from private road, etc.; yielding right-of-way.

This statute requires drivers coming from private roads, alleys, and driveways to stop prior to entering a public road and wait until it is safe to enter the road, unless there is a traffic control device present, in which case the traffic control device must be followed.

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