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Virginia Statute Now Makes Penalty Reflect The Crime

A new statute in VA aims to help protect pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. We want to make sure you are aware.

Virginia Code § 46.2-816.1, which took effect on July 1, 2020, allows prosecutors to bring more severe criminal charges when a distracted motor vehicle driver injures a vulnerable road user.  A vulnerable road user is defined as “a pedestrian, the operator of or passenger on a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, wheelchair or wheelchair conveyance, skateboard, roller skates, motorized skateboard or scooter, or animal-drawn vehicle or any attached device; or any person riding an animal.”

Vulnerable road users are at added risk of injury because they don’t benefit from the protection commonly found in cars, such as airbag deployment upon severe collisions. It is also challenging for vulnerable users to gauge how fast a vehicle is moving, if it’s slowing down or stopping, or if the driver is paying attention. Prior to the enactment of this statute, prosecutors were left with limited criminal options when a motor vehicle driver crashed into a vulnerable road user.

Unfortunately, at Curcio Law, we have had several cases where a motor vehicle colliding with a vulnerable user has led to severe or fatal injuries for the vulnerable user. Before this statute, prosecutors were left with the difficult decision to either charge the motor vehicle driver with a failure to yield or similar violation that has a small fine or not charge the driver at all because the minor penalty is an inappropriate consequence for the injuries that the driver caused.

This vulnerable user statute now allows prosecutors to charge distracted vehicle drivers with Class 1 misdemeanors when they injure vulnerable users. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail or a $2,500 fine.

The stricter penalties should start to deter drivers from making unsafe choices on the road and hold those at fault accountable. Hopefully, the combination of more significant fines and the hands-free law effective since January 1, 2021, will help lower vulnerable user accidents in Virginia.

At a time when pedestrian accidents have increased, Virginia’s new road rules are a combined effort to protect pedestrians and prevent accidents. We at Curcio Law have seen this statute being used more often to charge distracted drivers with a criminal violation that better reflects the severity of their crime. We hope that this statute will continue to highlight the dangers of distracted driving and will help save pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable users’ lives across the Commonwealth.

  • "$2,000,000.00 Auto Pedestrian Hit by Car / Brain Injury"

  • "$2,000,000.00 Pedestrian Hit By Bus / Broken Foot, Surgery Complications & Partial Choroidal Detachment"

  • "$2,000,000.00 Wrongful Death Settlement"

  • "$1,900,000.00 Pedestrian Hit By Truck / Fractured Pelvis & Multiple Surgeries"

  • "$1,500,000.00 Auto Accident / Wrongful Death"

  • "$1,200,000.00 Auto Accident / Broken Neck, Punctured Lung"

  • "$847,500.00 Dangerous Dog Bite / Facial Injury, Scarring"

  • "$600,000.00 Tractor Trailer Crash / Neck Injury, requiring surgery"

  • "$595,000.00 (Jury Verdict) Auto Accident / Broken Foot"

  • "$546,905.00 Auto Accident / Neck injury, Herniated Disc"

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    Talk to Tom - he’s friendly, sincere and easy to work with. I was seriously hit at 60+mph by a drunk driver running a red light. I interviewed 3 firms and chose Tom/Curcio Law. Glad I did. They were diligent in pursuing my claim and dealing with al...

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    Jack Butler

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    Through no fault of my own, I hurt my leg on the sharp corner of a metal step stool in a public restroom. It was a serious and deep laceration that required prolonged treatment in a hospital wound care center and still impacts my life. Even when othe...

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    Marjorie Kitzes

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    I was a passenger in a horrible car accident and sustained injuries. Curcio Law, especially Tom Curcio, fought hard for me and won my injury law suit. This law firm is excellent and I highly recommend them. They are truly the best.

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    Sean Mclemore

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    Justin was patient and thorough and able to get a great resolution for my family. I would recommend him to help other family and friends.

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    Dara Katz

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    I cannot express in mere simple words how grateful I am for Curcio Law Firm, especially Rakin. I never dreamed, as a pedestrian, while standing and waiting to cross the street in Old Town, Alexandria, VA, that I would be struck by an SUV and live thr...

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    Dana Neese

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