driver pushing hazard light button on dashboardAlthough there isn’t a federal law regarding the legal use of hazard lights, individual states have rules for their proper use. In Virginia, hazard lights should only be used by emergency vehicles, if you’re in a funeral procession, if your vehicle is stopped or slowed down as a result of an actual traffic hazard (including when you’re on the shoulder with a flat tire or engine trouble), or when you’re forced to travel slower than 30 mph for safety reasons.

The lights should never be used to indicate that you’re only “dropping someone off,” or “parking (illegally) for only a few minutes.” Hazards should only be used to indicate to other motorists that there is an unavoidable traffic safety problem. If you are using your hazards for any other purpose, you could cause the safety issues they’re meant to avoid.

Risks of Using Hazard Lights Inappropriately

It might not seem like a big deal to use your hazards in situations other than what is outlined by Virginia law, but risks include:

Safety risks

  • Obstruction of emergency vehicles or traffic backups
  • Danger to the passenger you are dropping off or picking up in an unsafe zone
  • Turning collisions if you are parked too close to an intersection
  • Increased road rage caused by improperly parking or stopping
  • Rear-end collisions caused by sudden stops
  • Increase risks to good Samaritans as they attempt to pull over, stop, or cross traffic to help you with what they assume to be an emergency situation.

Legal risks

  • Ticket for driving with hazards or parking illegally using hazards
  • Automatic points on your license for abusing hazard signals
  • Ticket or imprisonment for blocking emergency vehicles when illegally parked with hazards
  • Prosecution for involuntary manslaughter if your illegal use of the lights directly results in a fatal accident or delay of emergency vehicles resulting in a death
  • Civil liability for damages if your hazard use results in an accident where the victim was seriously hurt or suffered monetary damages

How a Virginia Car Crash Attorney Can Help

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash that was not your fault—including one caused by the misuse of hazard lights—schedule a free initial consulation with our Front Royal, Culpeper, and Warrenton personal injury lawyers to find out if we can add value to your claim for damages. You should not have to pay for losses that were caused by another person's negligence. Call us at 888-907-2631 or fill out our contact form to get in touch with us today.

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